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Hie Rise and Fall of 

the Bulgarian Connection 



EDWARD S. HERMAN and FRANK BRODHEAD 



SHERIDAN SQUARE PUBLICATIONS, INC. 
NEW YORK 



Publisher's Note: This book is one of a series of in-depth studies 
of current intelligence- and media-related issues. For a 
catalog, please write to Sheridan Square Publications, Inc , 
P. O. Box 677. New York. NY 10013. 



Copyright © 1986 by Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead. All rights reserved. 
First printing. May 1986. 

Library of Congress Calaloging-in-Publication Data 

Herman, Edward S. 
The rise and fall of the Bulgarian connection. 

Includes index 

I. John Paul 11. Pope, 1920- — Assassination 
attempt, 1981. 2. Espionage — Bulgaria. 3. Disin- 
formation — United States. I. Brodhead, Frank. 
II Title. 

BXI378.5.H48 1986 364 r524'0945634 86-6582 

ISBN 0-940380-07-2 
ISBN 0-940380-06-4 (pbk.) 



This book is a compelling exposd of Che plot behind the plot — the 
concoction by the Italian secret services of a Bulgarian Connection in 
the attempted assassination of the Pope. 

The reader of this book is faced with staggering proof that the media 
utterly failed to meet acceptable standards of care and professionalism. 
The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection is a serious and realistic 
assessment of the handling by the western press of a propaganda trick; it 
shows how the press was led by a handful of journalists linked to the 
CIA into accepting as proof a fabricated story. 

In following this case, lawyers were disheartened by the erosion of 
the principle of the presumption of innocence. And just as the legal sys- 
tem failed to probe the case against the accused Bulgarians in accor- 
dance with that presumption, so the media ignored information suggest- 
ing hidden political motives behind the accusations. 

The book is a chilling indictment of our so-called "free" press, a 
press which abuses its freedom by omissions, by half-truths, and by stir- 
ring the continuation of a Cold War climate. It deserves to be read and 
remembered. 

—Sean MacBride, S.C. 

Sean MacBride is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1974), the Lenin 
Peace Prize (1977), and the American Medal of Justice (1978); former Chief of 
Staff of the Irish Republican Army, Foreign Minister of Ireland, and United Na- 
tions Ambassador; U.N. Commissioner for Namibia; and author of the UN- 
ESCO Report on The New World Information and Communication Order; cur- 
rent Chairman of the Board of Advisers of the Institute for Media Analysis, Inc. 

The Institute for Media Analysis, Inc. is a non-profit educational institution 
devoted, in part, to the study of western media disinformation and deception op- 
erations. This book was prepared with the assistance of the Institute and mem- 
bers of its Board. For further information about the Institute for Media Analysis, 
Inc., please write to: IMA, 145 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012. 



Contents 



Preface ix 

1. Introduction 1 

2. The Evolution of the Bulgarian Connection 9 

3. The First Conspiracy: 

Agca and the Gray Wolves 42 

4. The Rome-Washington Connection 66 

5. Darkness in Rome: 

The Western System of Induced Confession 101 

6. The Disinformationists: 

Sterling, Henze, and Ledeen 123 

7. The Dissemination of the Bulgarian Connection Plot 174 

8. Conclusions 206 

Appendices: 

A. Did the Western Media Suppress 

Evidence of a Conspiracy? 216 

B. Bulgaria and the Drug Connection 225 

C. The Use and Misuse of Defectors 234 

D. Sterling versus Andronov 241 

E. The Georgetown Disinformation Center 245 

Index 248 



"Destroy his fib or sophistry: in vain — 
The creature's at his dirty work again." 

—ALEXANDER POPE, 1735 

"After a disinformation effort has been launched, 
if it gets into replay it can be manipulated 
for long periods of time using assets in 
other areas and be revived at will." 

— CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 1982 



Preface 



On March 29, 1986, a jury in Rome, composed of two judges and 
six lay members, concluded that three Bulgarians and six Turks 
charged with conspiracy to assassinate Pope John Paul II should be ac- 
quitted for lack of evidence. The decision was an abrupt and, for many, 
surprising end to four years of claims and speculations about the "Bul- 
garian Connection." During those years the charges, linked in the 
media to more general accusations that the Soviet Union stood behind 
"international terrorism," regularly found their way into the headlines: 
"Dramatic new revelations. ... " "The investigation is continu- 
ing. . . . " "Bulgaria today angrily denied. . . . " "U.S. officials re- 
fused to speculate. ..." Long bef ore the trial began, the flow of leaks 
from a supposedly secret investigation, and repeated assertions by sup- 
porters of the Connection that the evidence was abundant and compel- 
ling,' conditioned most people in the West to believe that the Bulgarians 
were guilty. 

From its inception, however, the case had rested on the testimony of 
the would-be assassin, a young Turkish terrorist named Mehmet Ali 
Agca. It was therefore somewhat disconcerting to those who had taken 
the charges seriously that on the opening day of the trial, in May 1985, 
Agca's first sentences to the court announced that he was Jesus Christ, 
and that he had returned to warn of the imminent end of the world. He 
revealed further that he held the occult secrets of Fatima, that the Pope 
supported him in his claims to be Jesus, and that mysterious forces in 
Rome wanted to kidnap him and set him up as Pope. To prove his 
claims about being Jesus, and incidentally to support his charges against 

1 . Paul Henze, in a 1985 update of his book. The Plot to Kill the Pope (New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985), wrote that the case for Bulgarian involvement has gotten 
"continually stronger" and the "evidence" for the Plot has "steadily accumulated to the 
point where little rational doubt is now possible" (p 196). 



ix 



X 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the Bulgarians, he offered to raise Ihe dead in the presence of President 
Reagan and other world leaders. 

The prosecutor, Antonio Marini, claimed that Agca was deliberately 
sabotaging the case. Others maintained that Agca was just having some 
good fun, or that he was mysteriously signaling his Bulgarian col- 
laborators to rescue him from jail. 2 Still others asserted that Agca was 
mad. The case became a shambles, but dragged on for almost a year. 
Agca agreed to dozens of conflicting versions of the truth, shifting 
major claims two or three times within half an hour. He launched into 
tirades about the Soviet Union, or western imperialism, and then be- 
came confused when the judge sternly reminded him about the here and 
now of the case. He withdrew in protest from the trial several times, 
each time returning with an even more improbable explanation of his 
shifts in testimony. But he stuck to his guns that he was Jesus Christ, 
come to announce the end of the world. 

While the prosecution successfully developed a coherent case for a 
papal assassination conspiracy by Agca and perhaps a dozen of his as- 
sociates in the Turkish rightwing movement called the Gray Wolves, the 
case against the Bulgarians made sense only if one believed it already. 3 
Not a single witness was produced during the trial to support Agca's 
claims that the assassination plan was hatched in Bulgaria, that he had 
plotted with Bulgarians in Rome, or that he had collaborated with Bul- 
garians on the day of the assassination attempt itself. Despite a lengthy 
summation before the court in which Marini frequently implied that the 
Bulgarians stood behind the assassination attempt, this was so much 
rhetoric: While asking for prison sentences for Agca and three of his 
Turkish collaborators, the prosecutor was compelled to recommend dis- 
missal of the charges against the three Bulgarians for lack of evidence. 
The jury, in its turn, however, acquitted all of the defendants of the con- 
spiracy charges." 

2. The prosecutor also suggested this in his final summing up, 'although he never indi- 
cated how the Bulgarians could have rescued Agca, or why, after Agca had given up "sig- 
naling" he still failed to produce any confirmable evidence about Bulgarian involvement. 

3. The present writers have always maintained that the claims and demonstrations of a 
Bulgarian Connection were deficient in both logic and evidence. While this position has 
been sustained in the trial and court judgment, we show in this book that the fatal weak- 
nesses of the case were quite apparent when the Connection was at its peak of popularity 
(see especially Chapter 2). 

4. In Italian criminal law, in addition to a finding of guiltyornot guilty, there is a third 
possibility, a finding of not guilty because of insufficient evidence. Thus, failure to prove 
a charge beyond a reasonable doubt does not mandate, as it does in the United States, a 



PREFACE 



XI 



The trial in Rome raises many questions. If the only evidence against 
the Bulgarians consisted of assertions by an imprisoned and half-crazed 
criminal, why did anyone in the Italian state apparatus take them seri- 
ously? Did Agca think up these charges himself, or was he coached and 
supplied with information by people who somehow gained access to 
him in his solitary confinement? And how was the claim of a Bulgarian 
Connection sustained for four years in a Free World media that prides 
itself on investigative reporting and skepticism about sources? Was this 
a case of massive disinformation, beginning with planted stories and 
then growing to a universally agreed upon version of the truth? Or was 
the media's cooperation with the myth of the Bulgarian Connection sim- 
ply a series of journalistic mistakes, taking the error-ridden Italian judi- 
cial process at its word and elaborating on the story from there? 

In this study of the rise and fall of the Bulgarian Connection we at- 
tempt to answer these questions. Its main thesis is that the only Bulga- 
rian Connection in the plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II existed in 
the minds of its originators and spokespersons in the West and in the 
selective coverage of the topic in the western mass media. The story of 
the "rise" of the Connection is therefore the tale of how and why this 
politically useful story was put over by a small coterie of U.S. jour- 
nalists who we believe to be propagandists and disinformationists, most 
notably Claire Sterling, Paul Henze, and Michael Ledeen. 5 More 
broadly, The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection is a case study 
of how the mass media of the Free World function as a propaganda sys- 
tem. 

The "fall" of the Bulgarian Connection may be something of a mis- 
nomer. While the case against the Bulgarians has been dismissed, it 
does not follow that the public will now be provided with sufficient in- 
formation about the failed case to alter their well-ingrained perceptions 

finding of not guilty. 

5. Claire Sterling's September 1982 Reader's Digest article, "The Plot to Kill the 
Pope," launched the Bulgarian Connection in the western media. Paul Henze. former 
CIA station chief in Ethiopia and Turkey, wrote influential background reports proposing 
a Bulgarian Connection shortly after the assassination attempt. These reports were used by 
many major media outlets (see Chapters 6 and 7). Sterling elaborated her views in The 
Time of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983), while Henze later 
produced The Plot to Kill the Pope (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983). Michael 
Ledeen, though playing a lesser role, served to link the ideas of Sterling and Henze to the 
Reagan administration and to the influential Georgetown Center for Strategic and Interna- 
tional Studies. We analyze the product and influence of these, the Big Three, in Chapters 
5, 6. and 7. 



xii 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



of Bulgarian and Soviet guilt. In our analysis of the rise of the Connec- 
tion, we stress that the initiation and handling of the case in Italy, and 
the willingness of the western media to accept uncritically a stream of 
implausible allegations, were based not only on western preconceptions 
and prejudices, but also on the serviceability of the Plot to important 
political interests. Both external pressures and internalized preferences 
caused the Italian courts and the media to follow blindly a politically 
convenient western party line. And just as the party line was followed 
uncritically, so alternative lines of fact and argument were not pursued, 
and dissent from the preferred view was rarely admitted to public in- 
spection. 

With the case against the Bulgarians now rejected by an Italian court 
after a lengthy trial, the mass-media sponsors and supporters of Sterling 
and other proponents of the Connection will have no interest in explain- 
ing to the public why they were wrong and how the public was manipu- 
lated into accepting a myth. Earlier critics of the Plot will not be hon- 
ored for their foresight, but will continue to be marginalized. The 
creators and disseminators of the party line will not be subjected to close 
inspection and serious criticism, but will be given further access to the 
media, now to explain the legal setback. And out of their explanations 
the Bulgarian Connection will arise like a phoenix, available once again 
for regular service by conservative politicians and pundits. 

The bases on which the Bulgarian Connection will be revived became 
clear in the mass media's coverage (or noncoverage) of the waning days 
of the trial. It is apparent that media creators of the Connection like 
Claire Sterling and Paul Henze have not been discredited, and that the 
media will recycle themes already advanced by Sterling, Henze, and 
others in explaining why the case was lost. For example: 

• It will be argued that the case failed because western legal stand- 
ards require excessive evidence in order to protect the innocent. Of 
course, Sterling and the mass media operated on principles precisely the 
reverse of this great western tradition, asserting for years that the Bulga- 
rians and Soviets were guilty prior to any judicial rulings. They work 
both sides of the street, arguing guilt beforehand and explaining away a 
decision of non-guilt on the basis of western presumptions of innocence! 
So while the KGB really did it, this couldn't be proved with the overly 
cautious and soft legal system of the West. 

• In explaining the loss of the case, Sterling and company will also 
return once again to the cleverness of the KGB in hiding its guilt be- 
neath a web of proxies. Initially they charged that the very absence of 



PREFACE 



xiii 



evidence was proof of Soviet guilt, because the professionals of the 
KGB were always careful to establish "plausible deniability," and left 
no clues behind. As there were no clues, ergo, the Soviets did it. Ster- 
ling and Henze abandoned this line when the case rested on Agca's claim 
that three or more Bulgarians openly paraded around Rome with him, 
hosted him socially, and participated in the May 13, 1981 shooting. 
With the loss of the case, we believe Sterling and Henze will return to 
the plausible deniability argument, assuming, probably correctly, that 
the western media will once again fail to challenge them with facts or 
the record of their somersaults. 

• Sterling and Henze will also contend that the case was lost because 
the western powers f ailed to cooperate fully with Italian authorities in 
bringing the KGB to heel. Sterling has made this point frequently, argu- 
ing that the Reagan administration has been fearful that revelations of 
Soviet misbehavior would undermine ddtente! 6 It is testimony to the 
power of ideology and interest that this Orwellian nonsense has not in- 
terfered in the least with Sterling's credibility as an expert. 1 

• It will be contended further that Soviet threats coerced the Italian 
government into voluntarily losing the case, again to preserve ddtente." 
Before the 1985-86 trial, while the case was under investigation by 
Judge Ilario Martella, Sterling, Henze, and the mass media periodically 
claimed that the Bulgarian Connection was being built in the face of 
strong political opposition. They have never acknowledged the exis- 
tence of potent vested interests and biases favoring the pursuit of the 
case.' And as Martella shared the Sterling-Henze preconceptions, he 
was consistently lauded as hardworking and conscientious and his in- 
vestigation was found to be meticulous and thoroughgoing. 10 With the 

6. "I think there's been a deliberate effort by certain sections of the government not to 
take a public position that would concede any possible Bulgarian-Soviet connection be- 
cause they consider it a destabilizing factor in the East- West power balance for the public 
to know such things." ("Why Is the West Covering Up for Agca? An exclusive interview 
with Claire Sterling," Human Events, June 26, 1984, p. 54.) 

7. See Chapters 6 and 7 for an analysis of Sterling's conspiracy theories, overall record, 
and hegemonic position in mass media expositions of the plot from August 1 982 to mid 
1985. 

8 A Wall Street Journal editorial of January 21. 1985, states that: "Claire Sterling, the 
Rome-based journalist and terror expert, says the Italian judiciary [sicj is scared to death 
the politicians will insist on such a coverup [a deal where Antonov makes a limited con- 
fession and is released]." 

9. These are developed at length in Chapters 4, 6, and 7 

10. We show in Chapter 5 that while Martella was hardworking, his biases and conduct 
of the investigation left everything to be desired. 



xiv 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



thoroughgoing and open trial" yielding a rejection of the Bulgarian 
Connection, the powerful supporters of the Connection will resort once 
more to a political explanation of this (to them) untoward result. 12 When 
the disinformationists succeed, it is because the truth is on their side; 
they lose only because of the intrusion of "politics"! 

• Finally, it will be alleged that an enormous and uncontested Soviet 
disinformation campaign affected the climate of opinion in the West, 
contributing substantially to the loss of the case. This has already been a 
primary thrust of Sterling, Henze, and their close allies at the George- 
town Center for Strategic and International Studies, the primary sources 
for media commentary on both the case in Rome and "international 
terrorism" in general. 13 

We predict that these rationalizations will be given far more exposure 
than any analyses showing the case to have been an obvious fraud from 
the beginning, and one which survived only by virtue of media conni- 
vance. 14 While most journalists and editorial writers in the respectable 
media will no longer make outright assertions that the KGB organized 
the plot to kill the Pope," the contrary case — showing that the Plot was 

11. The Martella investigation was not open This allowed its biases and evidential 
weaknesses to be kept under cover until the trial forced them into public view. 

12. This was greatly facilitated by prosecutor Marini's closing statement in the trial in 
which he suggested that the case was lost because the judge refused to allow sufficient 
time to call all the necessary witnesses. The mass media quickly latched on to this oppor- 
tunity to rationalize the loss of the case. (See, e.g., Elisa Pinna and Luca Balestrieri. 
"Conviction of Bulgarians in papal plot trial seen as unlikely." Christian Science Moni- 
tor, March 14, 1986; John Tagliabue, "Acquit Bulgarians, Prosecutor Asks," New York 
Times, February 28, 1986.) These articles fail to note the following: (1) that the trial was 
exceptionally lengthy and called a very large number of witnesses; (2) that it had been pre- 
ceded by a two-year investigation which presumably yielded relevant and usable data; and 
(3) that Marini's effusions may have been a political gesture to protect the Italian estab- 
lishment from attacks for having brought a case and having expended substantial re- 
sources where not even a diligent prosecutor could ask for a verdict of guilty. 

13 "The International Implications of the Papal Assassination Attempt: A Case of 
State-Sponsored Terrorism, " A Report of the CSIS Steering Committee on Terrorism, 
Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Kuppcnnan, Cochainnen, CSIS, I98S. For a further dis- 
cussion of this document, see Appendix E. On the hegemony of western disinformation in 
the national perception of the Bulgarian Connection, see Chapters 6 and 7. 

14. See Chapter 7. 

15 The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — sometimes known as the "ideologi- 
cal page" — is a notable exception Any claim that puts the enemy in a bad light finds a 
welcome home there, whatever the credibility of the source, implausibility of the allega- 
tion, or existence of incompatible facts (which are duly suppressed). One week before the 
prosecutor himself asked for dismissal of the charges against the Bulgarians for lack of 



PREFACE 



xv 



a hoax and analyzing the earlier propaganda outpourings asserting KGB 
guilt — will still not get much airing. Furthermore, the right wing, now 
well represented in all parts of the mass media, will be quite free to con- 
tinue to assert Bulgarian-Soviet guilt. Old, fabricated, and disproved 
anticommunist tales never die, they merely fade into the dimmer back- 
ground of popular mythology. 

We make no pretense that this book provides an exhaustive treatment 
of the Bulgarian Connection case. Our objective, instead, has been to 
provoke serious debate on both the substantive issues involved in the 
case and its treatment by the media. Toward this end, we have tried to 
give a coherent and factually accurate alternative analysis to the stan- 
dard version. We have provided information about the Turkish" back- 
ground to the assassination conspiracy, and have explored the Italian 
context in which the Bulgarian Connection was fabricated. We have 
also attempted to set the scene in the United States itself, where the case 
found a warmly receptive audience, and where disinformationists and 
the media played an important role in originating and developing the 
case. 

We have gone into considerable detail to show the remarkable lack of 
both coherence and empirical support for the standard version of the 
Connection as expounded by Claire Sterling and Paul Henze. The weak- 
nesses and chameleon-like shifts in the ingredients of the party line 16 
raise serious questions about how and why the line came into being and 
dominated the field so thoroughly for an extended time span. In short, 
the independence and integrity of the mass media are at issue. We there- 
fore devote considerable space to evaluating the quality of the media 
sources in the case and the processes whereby a party line was in- 
stitutionalized. 17 

evidence, (he Journal editorialized that ' 'the question now is not whether there was a Bul- 
garian Connection but when it began'' (February 19, 1986). This was based on the pro- 
secutor's strongest flights of rhetoric and resort to weak hearsay evidence immediately be- 
fore his abandonment of the case! It would be entirely out of character for (he Journal to 
wait for the presentation of the defense case, or the decision of the court; it is the pro- 
secutor who is saying what the editorialists want to believe. For the Journal, when Agca 
says something compatible with their preconceptions, he "admits'' it, when he says 
something incompatible with these beliefs, he "attacks his own credibility " This is the 
language used by Gordon Crovitz in a Journal Op-Ed piece on February 12,1 986. entitled 
"The Bulgarian Connection Still Holds." We may be sure that the Bulgarian Connection 
will ' 'hold" indefinitely for the Journal as its truths are independent of the world of fact 

16. See Chapters 2, 5, and 6. 

1 7 See Chapters 6 and 7 



xvi 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The inadequacies of the mass media's performance on the Bulgarian 
Connection were hardly a consequence of a poverty of materials; they 
were the result of a failure to ask questions, to follow leads, and to use 
readily available documents. As we describe in Chapters 2 and 7, the 
media did do some investigative work on the Turkish right wing and the 
Gray Wolves — the true locus of the plot to shoot the Pope — im- 
mediately following the assassination attempt. Once the party line — the 
Bulgarian Connection — was firmed up, however, all such leads were 
abandoned and any context for the case incompatible with the line was 
ignored. 

The f ailure of the western media to meet its own alleged professional 
standards is illustrated and dramatized by comparing its handling of the 
case to that of a single reporter, Diana Johnstone. It is our belief that be- 
tween May 13, 1981, and August 1985, Johnstone, writing on the Bulgar- 
ian Connection and related issues for a small weekly newspaper, In 
These Times (circulation about 30,000), conveyed more relevant facts, 
used more pertinent documentary materials,'" and provided more intelli- 
gent analysis and insight on the Bulgarian Connection than the entire 
U.S. mass media taken together — radio, TV, newspapers, and weekly 
news magazines. 19 While this is a testimonial to Johnstone's abilities, it 
is also indicative of structurally based blinders that hamper and con- 
strain mass media investigative efforts and reporting. These obstructions 
are apparently not applicable to a reporter working for a small, nones- 
tablishment publication. 20 This contrast, and the overall mass media per- 

18. We will show in Chapter 7 thai the U.S. press completely ignored a major 1984 re- 
port of the Italian Parliament on a rightwing conspiracy, P-2, that had penetrated a secret 
service organization. SISMI, which played an important role in getting Agca to talk. Also 
entirely unmentioned was a major court report of July 1985 that described repeated corrupt 
behavior by SISMI, including the forging and planting of documents. These reports, 
along with other materials available to but ignored by the U.S. media, were regularly em- 
ployed by Johnstone. 

19. Citations to Johnstone's writings will be found throughout the text below and in the 
index. 

20. On September 12, 1985, Ralph Blumenthal wrote in the New YorkTimes that "more 
than a thousand news articles' ' had appeared in Italy in the previous 18 months on the story 
of Francesco Pazienza, a key player in any analysis of the origins of the Bulgarian Con- 
nection. Many of these articles claimed that Pazienza was involved in the manipulation of 
Agca in prison, while most of the rest related to abuses with which Pazienza was a party as 
a member of the intelligence agency SISMI and often in collaboration with U S disinfor- 



PREFACE 



xvii 



formance on the Bulgarian Connection, suggest that on major foreign 
policy issues the mass media is systematically unable to seek the truth 
and serves instead to dispense system-supportive propaganda. 21 

The authors are indebted to numerous individuals for help in translat- 
ing documents, discussing the issues of this complex case, and reading 
and evaluating parts of the manuscript. We would like to make special 
mention of the following: Wolfgang Achtner, Feroz Ahmad, Sister El- 
vira Arcenas, John Cammett, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockbum, 
Kevin Coogan, Ellen Davidson, Doug Dowd, David Eisenhower, 
Franco Ferraresi, Gianni Flamini, Anna Garbesi, Anna Hilbe, Diana 
Johnstone, Martin Lee, Bill Montross, Ed Morman, Ugur Mumcu, Njat 
Ozeygin, Donatella Pascolini, Nicholas Pastore, Jim O'Brien, Mark 
O'Brien, Muieann O Briain, Ellen Ray, Bruno Ruggiero, Bill Schaap, 
Hayden Shaughnessy, Helen Simone, and Lou Wolf. We owe very spe- 
cial debts to Howard Friel and Andy Levine. Frank Brodhead would 
also like to thank Christine Wing and Benjamin Boyd for their support 
and great patience during this project. Finally, the authors want to ex- 
press their gratitude to Carol and Ping Ferry for their generous financial 
assistance. The authors remain responsible for the content of this book. 

mationist Michael Ledeen. During this 18 month period, however, the New York Times 
never discussed Pazienza, with the exception of a single, brief news article in the Business 
Section of the paper on March 25, 1985. Our hypothesis is that this systematic avoidance 
was a result of the paper's commitment to the party line, which would be disturbed by re- 
ference to Pazienza and his shenanigans. Again, Diana Johnstone was not subject to this 
kind of self-imposed prior constraint and could use these voluminous and highly relevant 
press materials freely. (See further, Chapter 7, under "The New York 77mes-Sterling-Le- 
deen Axis.") 

2 1 . An interesting case study could be done on the timing of media investigations and 
disclosure of the stolen wealth of the Marcos family. Although the Marcoses' looting oc- 
curred over an extended period, the U.S. mass media were exceedingly quiet and their in- 
vestigatory zeal reined in on that subject until the U.S. government withdrew its support 
from Marcos in late 1985. At that point, as if by a tacit signal, there appeared a flood of 
disclosures. While Marcos was a valued ally, his looting was off the agenda; with Marcos 
in process of ouster, his looting was freely discussed. 



l. Introduction 



On May 13, 1 98 1 a young Turkish gunman fired shots at Pope John 
Paul II as the Pope's vehicle circled slowly through the crowd in 
St. Peter's Square. Gravely wounded, the Pope was rushed to the hospi- 
tal. His assailant, Mehmet Ali Agca, was tackled by a nun and captured 
by the crowd. The Italian police soon reconstructed his movements prior 
to the shooting, seeking to determine his motives and accomplices. Yet 
when Agca was brought to trial in July 1 98 1 , little of this information 
was produced in court; his aims were still unclear and no co-con- 
spirators were named. 

Agca's crime was committed in the fourth month of the Reagan presi- 
dency. From the outset administration officials and supporters sought to 
link the assassination attempt to the Soviet Union and its allies, in accor- 
dance with its new stress on "terrorism," and in aid of the new plans for 
a military buildup at home and the placement of advanced missiles in 
Western Europe. This effort did not bear fruit, however, until the publi- 
cation of an article by Claire Sterling in the September 1982 issue of 
Reader's Digest. Sterling maintained thai the attempted assassination, 
previously thought to have been the work of a rightwing gunman, acting 
either alone or as a member of a Turkish rightwing network, was in fact 
instigated by the Bulgarian secret services, and behind them the KGB. 
This latter claim took on particular significance because at that moment 
the heir apparent to the terminally ill Leonid Brezhnev was Yuri An- 
dropov, who had been the head of the KGB at the time of the assassina- 
tion attempt. Thus a successful linking of the KGB to the shooting 
would seriously cripple the prospective leader's ability to project any 
moral claims for Soviet policies were he actually to succeed Brezhnev.' 

1 Andropov received litcle notice in (he West as a possible successor to Brezhnev until 
the death of Mikhail Suslov in January 1982 An article by Don Oberdorfer in the 
Washington Post on April 3, 1982, mentioned Konstantin Chemenko as a likely succes- 

I 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The claim of a Bulgarian Connection received apparent confirmation 
in November 1982, when Agca declared that several Bulgarian officials 
residing in Rome had assisted him in his crime, and that the plan had 
originally been laid while he was passing through Bulgaria in the sum- 
mer of 1980. Two of the named officials had returned to Bulgaria, but 
one of them, Sergei Antonov, deputy director of Balkan Air, was im- 
mediately arrested. With the heightening of Cold War tensions, and 
European debate and demonstrations over the scheduled deployment of 
new U.S. missiles reaching their peak, Agca's accusations found a 
ready and uncritical reception in the western media. While no indepen- 
dent evidence linking Agca to the Bulgarians, or the Bulgarians to the 
crime, was forthcoming, Agca's mere declaration and its apparent con- 
firmation by the arrest of Antonov all but convicted Bulgaria in the 
western press. Leaks of Agca's evolving claims, which soon included a 
Bulgarian-instigated plot to murder Lech Walesa, served to keep the pot 
boiling. Despite severe problems of fact and logic, the Italian judicial 
machinery ground slowly but steadily through its investigations, cul- 
minating in an official indictment of three Bulgarians and six Turks on 
October 25, 1984. A trial of these indicted individuals began on May 
27, 1985, and ended with the acquittal of the Bulgarians on March 29, 
1986. 

It is our judgment that the media's uncritical, even enthusiastic, em- 
brace of the case developed by Claire Sterling and the Italian prosecu- 
tion was not merely wrong, but also points up the more general prop- 
aganda role played by the press. As we will show below, the credibility 
of Agca, the primary (in fact, sole) witness — based on his character, 
history, political affiliations, circumstances of imprisonment, and shifts 
and contradictions in testimony — is close to zero. 2 Furthermore, the 
logic of the case, as advanced by its leading proponents, was seriously 
flawed and rested ultimately on Cold War premises. 3 We believe that 
similar evidence and arguments put forward in a case not helpful to 
western political interests would have been objects of derision and 
quickly rejected and buried. 4 

sor. It was not until Andropov was appointed to an important new post in the Party Sec- 
retariat on May 24, and resigned from his position as head of the KGB two days later, that 
he was regarded publicly in the West as a leading candidate to succeed Brezhnev This 
period of the emergence of Andropov coincides with the sudden decision by Agca to 
cooperate and name his alleged Bulgarian collaborators. 

2 See Chapters 2-5 

3 See Chapters 2, 5, and 6 

4 For example, imagine the response of the West if a lifelong leftist terrorist, after 



ONE: INTRODUCTION 



3 



A Dual Conspiracy 



Where the creators of the Bulgarian Connection see one conspiracy, we 
see two. The first was a conspiracy to assassinate the Pope. The second 
was a conspiracy to take advantage of control over the imprisoned Agca 
to pin the assassination attempt on the Bulgarians and KGB. We, like 
Claire Sterling and her associates, believe there was a conspiracy to as- 
sassinate the Pope. But who were the participants? In the Sterling model 
it was the Bulgarians and KGB. But throughout the investigation and 
trial in Rome, the only evidence of Agca's linkages that was not based 
on his word alone (and that of Claire Sterling and company), suggested 
a conspiracy rooted in a Turkish neofascist organization called the Gray 
Wolves. Its members assisted Agca in escaping from a Turkish prison in 
November 1979; aided, financed, and sheltered him during the 18 
months prior to the assassination attempt; and cooperated with him in 
carrying it out. There is extensive evidence in the final report of Inves- 
tigating Magistrate Ilario Martella, and in the record of the Rome trial, 
of these continuing and intimate contacts between Agca and the Gray 
Wolves network in the months prior to the assassination attempt. Inves- 
tigations into Agca's background in Turkey have also placed him 
squarely in the midst of an intricate web of political rightists, drug deal- 
ers, and gun runners — a large proportion also Gray Wolves — who were 
the only known participants in the conspiracy to shoot the Pope.' We 
develop these links, and the possible motivations that might have led 
Agca and his associates to attempt to kill the Pope, in Chapter 3. 

The main focus of our work, however, is on the second conspiracy, 
which used the imprisoned Agca to advance various Italian and New 
Cold War political interests. The Rome trial, while discrediting the Bul- 
garian Connection, greatly strengthened the hypothesis that Agca was 
coached to implicate the Bulgarians. This conspiracy was implemented 

being held captive in a Bulgarian prison for 1 8 months, suddenly confessed that he had 
acted for the CIA, several of whose officials he identified from a picture album showed to 
him by the Bulgarian secret services! 

5. Up to the time of the trial it was thought that Agca had one or more Turkish accom- 
plices in Rome at the time of the assassination attempt. The trial raised doubts about any 
on-the-scenc accomplices of Agca, although it has not diminished the force of the evi- 
dence that Agca was moving through the Gray Wolves network in his passage through 
Europe to the rendezvous in Rome. See further. Chapter 3, pp. 53-55. 



4 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



by the Italian secret services and their allies in the Vatican and the 
Mafia, with assistance from other members of the Italian government, 
their friends in the Reagan administration, and the press." We believe 
that a powerful analogy can be drawn between the "confessions" ex- 
tracted during the Soviet political trials of the 1930s and Agca's "con- 
fessions" of 1982 and 1983. In Chapter 4 we describe the domestic and 
international forces at work in recent years which encouraged the Italian 
initiators to press Agca into implicating the eastern Bloc in the Plot. We 
also discuss the background of the Italian security services, which were 
mobilized early in the Cold War era as an activist, anticommunist in- 
strument of U.S. and conservative Italian political aims. 7 These services 
played an important role in rightwing destabilization strategies of the 
1960s and 1970s, including efforts to plant fabricated evidence on the 
Left. We discuss the massive rightwing conspiracy Propaganda Due, or 
P-2, which was exposed in a major scandal shortly after the assassina- 
tion attempt against the Pope in 1981 . An Italian Parliamentary Report 
on P-2, issued in July 1984, showed that those agencies of the Italian 
state which held Agca in captivity, which had daily access to him, and 
which participated in the investigation of his evolving claims, had been 
thoroughly penetrated by P-2. 

The gradually accumulating evidence that Agca was induced to impli- 
cate the Bulgarians by means of both positive incentives and threats is 
spelled out in Chapters 4 and 5. We also describe the weaknesses of the 
Italian judicial process in its investigative phase, which combined major 
violations of judicial and scientific procedure in handling evidence with 
a flow of timely leaks that allowed numerous Cold War points to be 
scored by proponents of the Plot. We show in Chapter 5 that Judge 
Ilario Martella was an ideal choice to pursue the investigation, quietly 
dignified but dedicated to proving an a priori truth. 

The Italians did not decide to pursue the Bulgarian Connection en- 
tirely on their own. Italy is a part of the Free World, and it was caught 
up in a web of larger interests. The Reagan administration's rearmament 
plans and antiterrorism campaign provided encouragement, ideological 

6. We believe that this conspiracy was loosely organized and tacit, not centrally di- 
rected, and with a number of participants pursuing the same end quite independently, 
some playing their role knowingly, others contributing innocently in the belief that they 
were merely expressing or eliciting a self-evident truth. (See the beginning of Chapter 8 
on the multiple invention of the second conspiracy.) 

7 See Chapter 4. 



ONE: INTRODUCTION 



5 



support, and political backing for such an initiative. 8 Encouragement 
and support came in part from the pressures built up in the U.S. mass 
media, but they also flowed through more direct channels. The penetra- 
tion and manipulation of the Italian state by the CIA and other agencies 
of the U.S. government is a matter of public record, confirmed by the 
Pike Committee of the House of Representatives 9 and by many indepen- 
dent Italian investigations. In Chapters 4 and 5 we describe this back- 
ground of manipulation and quasi-dependency . We also discuss some of 
the recent evidence in Italian court documents and in the press revealing 
linkages and cooperative ventures between officials of the Reagan ad- 
ministration and agents of the Italian secret services. We show that the 
team of Michael Ledeen and Francesco Pazienza, which had already 
achieved a notable success in manufacturing the "Billygate" scandal in 
1980, was virtually directing U.S. -Italian relations during the Reagan 
transition era. This team was well positioned to encourage the second 
conspiracy and disseminate information linking the papal assassination 
attempt to the Bulgarians and Soviets. 

We also show that the Bulgarian Connection had already been con- 
cocted in documents fabricated by the Italian secret services only days 
after the assassination attempt, and that the idea of getting Agca to tell 
this story had arisen early from several different sources. There were 
numerous avenues through which interested parties in the secret ser- 
vices, Mafia, Vatican, and other political interests could persuade, 
threaten, and instruct Agca on a proper confession. The evidence 
suggests that Agca was induced to confess properly by a variety of indi- 
viduals and interests, sometimes acting alone, sometimes working in 
collaboration. 10 We believe that the Italian background and the intema- 

8 Pan of ihe conservative line on the Bulgarian Connection is that its prosecution suf- 
fered grievously from Reagan administration and CIA negativism and foot-dragging, 
rooted in a devotion to ddtente, with perhaps some assistance from KGB moles who have 
penetrated the government. This line, which stands the truth on its head, reached its finest 
flowering in the writings of Claire Sterling and in the Georgetown Center for Strategic and 
International Studies pamphlet on the papal assassination attempt. See Chapter 6 and Ap- 
pendix E. 

9. The "Pike Committee" wasthe Select Committee on Intelligence of the U S. House 
of Representatives. Its report on the CIA's record, completed in February 1976, was never 
published by the government, but was leaked and made available by the Village Voice on 
February 16 and 23, 1976. It was issued in book form by Spokesman Books in England in 
1 977, with an introduction by Philip Agee, under the title CIA : The Pike Report For some 
of its findings pertaining to the CIA in Italy, see Chapter 4, p. 73. 

10. In the account of Giovanni Pandico, a former Mafia leader, now the chief state wit- 



6 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



tional New Cold War political context are essential to understanding the 
Bulgarian Connection. It is this context which explains why many indi- 
viduals with access to Agca were anxious that he confess, and why the 
western political and media environment was receptive to an implausi- 
ble confession. This essential background, however, has rarely been 
mentioned by the New York Times or the major media sources in the 
West. Thus, while featuring prominently the report of Prosecutor Al- 
bano and the final report of Magistrate Martella in 1984, the Times and 
its mass media associates completely ignored the sensational findings of 
the July 1984 Italian Parliamentary Report on P-2 and the major July 
1985 Italian court report on the multiple abuses of Francesco Pazienza 
and SISMI, the Italian intelligence agency with which he was as- 
sociated. The only ' politics" which the media allow to enter the discus- 
sion of the Connection is the Soviet concern over Solidarity and the 
Polish upheaval, which happens to coincide with the interpretation of 
the motivations for the assassination attempt developed by Claire Ster- 
ling and her associates. 

The reasons for this dichotomous treatment seem quite clear. If the 
media is playing a supportive political role, it will not only concentrate 
its attention on reports and political themes damaging to the enemy, but 
it will also ignore any information that would suggest hidden political 
motives behind the case or cast doubt on the quality of our allies (the 
supporting cast). This allows commentators such as the Wall Street 
Journal's, Suzanne Garment to endorse the Bulgarian Connection on the 
basis of the integrity and even superior wisdom of the Italians: "Mind 
you, this is the Italians — no American hawk paranoids but instead 
people who live with a new government every thirty days. You simply 
cannot doubt their word."" While it would be interesting to examine 
Garment's view that political instability is a source of sound political 
judgment, the more important point is that not only can we doubt the 
"word" (and the political processes) of an Italian state machinery satu- 
rated with P-2 cadres, but we must do so if we are to arrive at the truth 
behind the Bulgarian Connection. 

While the U.S. media have suppressed the Italian context of the Bul- 
garian Connection, their treatment of the involvement of U.S. citizens 
in the creation of the Connection attained an even higher level of prop- 

ness in a [rial of the Naples Mafia, i( is suggested that a number of convergent interests — 
Mafia. Vatican, and secret services — worked together in getting Agca to talk. See below. 
Chapters 4 and 5 

II Wall Street Journal. June 15. 1984 



ONE: INTRODUCTION 



7 



aganda service. Here the very individuals actively participating in the 
manufacture of the Plot were mobilized to serve as the main media 
sources of information on the subject. The most important investigative 
work — or, we should say, creative writing — in establishing the 
hypothesis of the Bulgarian Connection was done by Claire Sterling, 
Paul Henze, and Michael Ledeen. Their writings in the New York 
Times, Christian Science Monitor, Reader's Digest, and other publica- 
tions, and their frequent appearances on the MacNeil/Lehrer News 
Hour, the Sunday television news programs, and before Senator 
Jeremiah Denton's Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism show them 
to be the media's commentators of choice on the Bulgarian Connection. 
That these individuals have long records of CIA and other intelligence 
agency connections and disinformation service has not been disclosed to 
the American public. We discuss their role and performance at length in 
Chapter 6. In Chapter 7 we describe the remarkable dominance which 
they have been able to exercise over the U.S. mass media in the dis- 
semination of the Plot. 

This pattern of media bias is a uniform characteristic of Red Scare 
eras. In every such period, as during the Palmer raids (1919-20) or the 
McCarthy years (1950-54), hysteria and bias overwhelm any sense of 
fair play, justice, and concern for truthfulness. A wave of passion and 
propaganda establishes guilt beforehand and makes doubts seem subver- 
sive. While Red Scares require a favorable climate of opinion in which 
to develop, they do not simply emerge spontaneously; rather, they are 
cultivated and stoked by prospective beneficiaries and their agents. 13 
The Bulgarian Connection met a need in the emerging New Cold War 
comparable to that met by earlier Red Scares. We believe that it was 
similarly created and stoked by Claire Sterling, Paul Henze, Michael 
Ledeen, and their governmental and media allies. 11 These influential 
disinformation specialists, linked to both the Reagan administration and 
to the Italian secret services, first created and packaged the Bulgarian 
Connection, and then helped sell it to the Italians. Finally, in a scenario 
worthy of Pirandello, they became the terrorism "experts" and com- 
mentators to whom the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, 

12. See Robert MurTay, Red Scare: A Study of National Hysteria, 1919-1920 (Min- 
neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955); David Caute, The Great Fear: The Anti- 
Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1978) 

13. It was also simultaneously created and stoked by Italian intelligence and other local 
sources. This was a case of multiple invention and causation. S«e Chapter 8. pp. 206-09. 



8 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and the NBC Nightly News turned to 
elucidate and evaluate the real story of what the nefarious KGB was up 
to. 



2. The Evolution off the 
Bulgarian Connection 



This book is a case study in the response of the West — of its intelli- 
gence agencies and mass media, intellectuals and disinfor- 
mationists — to an act of terror. The response was complex, but the 
"Bulgarian Connection" was its most important outcome. The Connec- 
tion did not emerge full-blown from a single source; it grew piece by 
piece over a period of four years, and many hands contributed to its 
manufacture. In this chapter we will examine the craft of these many 
laborers, and look at the evidence, claims, and hypotheses with which 
they constructed the Connection. 



The Preliminary Version: A Turkish Conspiracy 



Looking back, it seems amazing that the story could have been turned around so 
swiftly and smoothly, before the eyes of several hundred journalists gathered in 
Rome from the four comers of the globe to cover the papal shooting. The truth 
was close enough to touch for a fleeting instant, and then it was gone. At the 
first sign of a probable conspiracy, government and Church leaders perceived 
the dangers of exposing it. A wall of refracting mirrors went up overnight, de- 
flecting our vision at every turn. 1 

So begins Claire Sterling's argument that a great international cover- 
up was organized to conceal the conspiracy that supported Agca's at- 
tempt to kill the Pope. At the very outset of her study of the Bulgarian 
Connection, Sterling characteristically distorts elementary aspects of the 
historical record to make it appear that — against the callous indifference 

I . Claire Sterling, TheTime of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehan and Winston, 
1983), p. 5. 



9 



10 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



of the West and the active disinformation efforts of the East — she has 
rescued the truth about the Soviet-Bloc conspiracy to kill the Pope. 

What was "the truth that was close enough to touch"? According to 
Sterling, Italian authorities determined immediately after Agca shot the 
Pope that he had been aided by "other persons who remain unknown," 
as Attorney General Achille Gallucci put it in his arrest order. Judge 
Luciano Infelisi, who signed the order, noted that "for us, there is 
documentary proof that Mehmet Ali Agca did not act alone." These 
quotations, from the May 15, 1981 issue of the Turin newspaper La 
Stampa, are cited by Sterling at the beginning of her book. They are im- 
mediately contrasted with a statement from the New York Times of the 
same day that "Police are convinced, according to government sources, 
that Mr. Agca acted alone." For Sterling, this was the beginning of the 
cover-up. 

As she develops this line of thought in the introductory pages of The 
Time of the Assassins, Sterling makes four points: 

1 . Italian officials were initially convinced that there was a conspir- 
acy to kill the Pope, and then suddenly retreated on this issue, saying 
that there was insufficient evidence; 

2. The western media generally followed this lead, dropping any in- 
vestigation into the possibility that there was a conspiracy to kill the 
Pope, and taking as true Agca's claim to be "an international terrorist" 
acting alone; 

3. The conspiracy that the Italian authorities initially detected was 
one involving international terrorists and Soviet-backed organizations; 
and 

4. The Italian authorities and the western media backed off from in- 
vestigating this conspiracy because of their overriding interest in main- 
taining or supporting detente. 

Was there a cover-up? It is evident from a simple reading of the west- 
em press in the days and weeks following the assassination attempt that 
the question of a conspiracy was very much alive. A day-by-day ac- 
count of the reporting in the New York Times and the Washington Post 
for the first ten days following, the assassination attempt, which we pre- 
sent in Appendix A, clearly shows that Sterling's "wall of refracting 
mirrors" was completely ineffective in stemming the media's pursuit of 
a possible conspiracy. We also know from leaked documents and pub- 
lished accounts of the investigation thai up to the time of Agca's trial. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



11 



Italian officials continued to pursue the possibility that he had help. 2 The 
conspiracy under investigation, however, which Sterling fails to see, 3 
was a Turkish conspiracy, based in the shadowy right wing network 
called the Gray Wolves and in its parent organization, the Nationalist 
Action Party of Turkey. To the extent that there was any official hesi- 
tancy in investigating this wider conspiracy, therefore, it can only be in- 
ferred that someone or some institution was reluctant to explore any 
possible links to international fascist networks that might compromise 
Italy's NATO allies 

This finding, moreover, was reflected across the board in the U.S. 
media. Summaries of the evening news broadcasts of the three major 
U.S. television networks reveal a sustained interest in Agca's Turkish 
roots." Time magazine, in its first issue after the assassination attempt, 
described Agca as a "right-wing fanatic" and connected him to the 
Nationalist Action Party. 5 Similarly, Newsweek' 's (far more extensive) 
coverage placed Agca in the world of the Gray Wolves, even speculat- 
ing on more far-reaching connections to European fascists as well. 6 

Finally, we must point out that this preliminary model seemed so 
compelling that it convinced even Claire Sterling, who made what were 
perhaps her most cogent remarks on the Plot in an interview with People 
magazine immediately after the papal shooting. 7 

Some people are saying that the Russians plotted this because of the Pope's role 

2. For example, on May 25, 1981. SISMI turned over to investigating magistrate 
Domenico Sica the names of 1 1 Turks with whom Agca was known to have associated in 
West Germany and/or Switzerland, and who were wanted by Turkish police for "subver- 
sive activities" in association with the Gray Wolves (SISMI document number 1 356904) 
Among the 1 1 Turks named were Mehmet Sener. Abdullah Catli, and Oral Celik. On May 
27, 1981, DIGOS, the Italian anti-terrorist police, forwarded to Judge Sica information 
about 17 "suspected Turkish citizens" who were known to have links with Agca (DIGOS 
document number 051 195/81). This latter document was published in Espresso on De- 
cember 6, 1982. (See Sari Gilbert, "3 Bulgarians Linked To Shooting of Pope," 
Washington Post, December 8, 1982.) The DIGOS report of September 15, 1981, (see 
below, note 20) indicates that the investigation continued. 

3 Just as Sterling can never see rightwing terror (see Chapter 6), so it is possible that 
she is unable to recognize a rightist conspiracy as a genuine conspiracy. 

4 Vanderbilt University Television News Archive, Television News Index and 
Abstracts (May 14-25, 1981), pp. 831-902. 

5. "Not Yet Hale, But Hearty," Time, June I, 1981, pp 34-35. 

6. "The Man With the Gun," Newsweek, May 25, 1981, pp. 36-38. 

7. "An Authority on Terrorism Offers A Chilling New Theory on the Shooting of the 
Pope." People, June I, 1981, pp. 32-35 



12 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



in Poland, but 1 think that's crazy. If it was an organized plot by a serious group. 
I suspect there would have been a better getaway plan. Maybe this was a sort of 
kamikaze mission, but usually these people are skillful at escapes. There would 
have been some distraction in the crowd, some escape route. I could envision a 
small splinter group of Moslem fanatics with Agca among them vowing to get 
the Pope But more likely he made the final decision alone. 

Sterling saw a possible motivation for an attack on the Pope, noting 
that he "isn't perceived as just the head of the Roman Catholic Church, 
but as the supreme symbol of the intrusion of western civilization'' into 
the Moslem world. She also noted that the attack occurred shortly after 
the release of the hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran, and in the wake 
of the attack on the Grand Mosque at Mecca, which in the Middle East 
was widely (but falsely) attributed to the CIA and Israel." Sterling also 
argued that the Pope's trip to Turkey in 1979 had been highly inflam- 
matory and "a terrible mistake." Finally, she placed Agca within the 
networks of the Gray Wolves, "the paramilitary wing of the neo-Nazi 
National [sic] Action Party." 

This, then, may be taken as the preliminary paradigm of any possible 
"Connection" to Agca and the assassination attempt: a conspiracy 
which was rooted in Turkish neofascism, sustained by the European 
branches of the Turkish Right, and motivated by the problematic ideol- 
ogy of the Gray Wolves and the unstable personality of Agca himself. 
We call this the "first conspiracy." We will examine the Turkish roots 
of this conspiracy in Chapter 3, and show that no agents of the East were 
required to originate and execute Agca's assassination attempt. 



The Challenges Confronting Sterling and Company 



The facts unearthed by police and journalists that connected Agca to a 
Turkish rightwing conspiracy provided a formidable challenge to Ster- 
ling and her associates in their efforts to transform the case into a 
Soviet-based plot. As the case for a Bulgarian-KGB Connection was de- 
veloped, logical contradictions also emerged that demanded (but never 
received) resolution. Some of the core problems were as follows: 

Agca's relation to the "Gray Wolves." Those arguing for a Bulgarian 

8 Agca had mentioned the attack on the Mosque and attributed it to the United States 
and Israel in his 1979 note in which he first announced his intention to shoot the Pope 



TWO EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



13 



Connection were divided on whether Agca was always a KGB recruit 
who was simply using his Gray Wolves associations for cover, or 
whether he was in fact a genuine participant in rightwing activities and 
terrorism who was later recruited by the KGB. Claire Sterling, for ex- 
ample, told a congressional investigating committee in 1982 that Agca 
was "a sleeper," a lifelong Soviet agent who was activated only when a 
strike against the Pope became necessary. 9 Others have argued that 
Agca was recruited at the university, or while in a Turkish prison, or 
only later, in Bulgaria. But the only known facts are that Agca was con- 
tinuously involved with Turkish fascists from his high school days. 

Agca's stay in Bulgaria. A key element in Bulgarian Connection 
scenarios has always been the fact that Agca stayed in Sofia, Bulgaria 
for some days or weeks in the summer of 1 980. 10 Sterling and NBC-TV 
claimed that the very fact of Agca's presence in Sofia proved Bulgarian 
guilt, because the Bulgarian police know everything and must have been 
"protecting" Agca. Thus, according to Marvin Kalb, it "seems safe to 
conclude that he had been drawn into the clandestine network of the 
Bulgarian secret police and, by extension, the Soviet KGB — perhaps 
without his even being aware of their possible plans for him."" This is a 
non sequitur that rests on a number of assumptions, some of them quite 
foolish. Agca came into Bulgaria on a false passport, and the flow of 
Turks through Bulgaria numbers in excess of a million a year. The as- 
sumption that the Bulgarians knew of Agca's presence is therefore un- 
proven. 12 The further assumption that, if his presence was known, he 
must have been protected and recruited by the Bulgarians for some se- 

9. "The Assassination Attempt on Pope John Paul II," Hearing before the Commission 
on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 97th Congress, 2nd Session (September 23, 
1982), p 7 She has never given evidence that this was so, but this has never been de- 
manded of her by friendly congressional and media interlocutors. 

10. Perhaps the most important aspect of his stay is that even Agca has rarely claimed 
contact there with any Bulgarian official. For a long time he claimed to have worked 
strictly through intermediaries, although eventually a Bulgarian official came into the pic- 
ture. During the trial Agca disconceitingly took the new tack that on July 4, 1980. he had 
been introduced to the First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Sofia, who visited him in 
his hotel room! 

11 "The Man Who Shot the Pope— A Study in Terrorism," transcript of NBC-TV 
program of September 21, 1982, pp. 44-45. 

12. During his testimony at the Rome trial on September 22, 1985. Gray Wolves leader 
Abdullah Catli gave as one reason for Agca's visiting Bulgaria, instead of proceeding di- 
rectly into Western Europe, the fact that the volume of Turkish traffic is so large that a 
Turk may enter Bulgaria without having to undergo very careful checks! 



14 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



cret purpose is simple-minded Cold War ideology. If the Bulgarians 
knew who Agca was they may have been uninterested in him, or they 
may have failed to arrest him because of incompetence or indifference 
to the appeals of Turkish authorities, or they may have left him alone as 
a favor to Turkish smuggling interests with whom the Gray Wolves 
were linked. 

The Bulgarian-Soviet motive. The issue of motive also bedevils various 
accounts of the alleged Bulgarian link. Why would the Bulgarians or the 
Soviets want to kill the Pope? Advocates of the Bulgarian Connection 
hypothesis have built a motive out of the situation in Poland between the 
election of Cardinal Wojtyla as Pope in 1979 and the proclamation of 
Solidarity in late August 1980. It was the Pope's support for Solidarity 
which is held to be the key to the Soviet desire to want him out of the 
way, and at one point it was even claimed that he had declared his inten- 
tion to lay down the papal crown and return to Poland in the event of a 
Soviet invasion. 

There are several very serious difficulties with this imputed rationale. 
First, Agca had already threatened to kill the Pope in 1 979 during the 
Pope's visit to Turkey, long before Solidarity existed or Poland was in 
turmoil. This suggests the likelihood that the real explanation for the as- 
sassination attempt is to be found in Turkey. Second, the timing of 
Agca's alleged conspiracy with the Bulgarians also presents problems, 
as Solidarity was formed in late August 1980, while, according to Ster- 
ling, Agca's dealings in Sofia were largely completed by early July of 
that year. Third, there is no reason to believe that killing the Pope would 
have been useful to the Soviet Union, and the costs and risks of either a 
successful or a bungled assassination plot were great. The magnitude of 
the potential damage from such an effort has been demonstrated by the 
events which have unfolded since May 1981, as the attempted assassi- 
nation was ultimately pinned on the Soviets on the basis of mere suspi- 
cion. Nowhere is the belief in Soviet complicity stronger than in Poland, 
and it is hard to imagine how any Soviet official could have expected 
that a successful assassination attempt would have quelled unrest in Po- 
land. Furthermore, if an assassination had been convincingly linked to 
the Soviet Union, this would have had a devastating effect on Soviet ef- 
forts to oppose the new missiles planned for Europe and to advance the 
gas pipeline project, goals then considered by the Soviets to be of great 
importance. In short, this would have been an extremely foolhardy en- 
terprise for the Soviet Union to embark on, and western analysts of 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



15 



Soviet politics regard the Soviet leadership as cautious and not inclined 
to adventurism. 13 

Finally, there is some evidence that the Soviets regarded the Church 
as a conservative force in Poland. According to the Turin newspaper La 
Stampa, in December 1980 Vadim Zagladin, Vice-Secretary of Foreign 
Affairs in the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee, told the 
Vatican that "Moscow does not intend to invade Poland, but that the 
Church should continue to use its influence so that certain situations do 
not escalate." (At this time western media and government officials 
considered a Soviet invasion of Poland imminent.) A second Soviet of- 
ficial, according to La Stampa, told Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal 
Agostino Casaroli that "If the Church committed itself to stem the ardor 
of the Polish strikers within limits acceptable to Moscow, then Moscow 
in her turn would renounce the idea of an invasion."" 1 According to this 
line of thought, which has considerable support in the historical record, 
the Polish Pope, the Vatican, and the Polish Church acted as a stabiliz- 
ing force in Poland; and the assassination of Pope John Paul II would 
only threaten the very stability the Soviets sought there. 

Operational ineptitude: ( I) hiring Agca. Each successive version of the 
Bulgarian Connection has also had to wrestle with the overall ineptness 
of the alleged plot. Why would the Bulgarians want to hire Agca in the 
first place? Of the hundreds of rightwing terrorists wanted by the Tur- 
kish government, Agca was probably the most notorious; and, as the 
events of his 1985 trial have demonstrated, he was personally unstable. 
As an anticommunist he would have little compunction in conf essing to 
Bulgarian involvement. The hypothesis that Agca was hired by the Bul- 
garians in the summer of 1980, after his escape from Turkey's 
maximum security prison and then from Turkey itself, must contend 
with the fact that at just that moment Turkey and Interpol were issuing 
bulletins asking for his immediate arrest. In their respective reports, 
Deputy Prosecutor Albano and Judge Martella stressed Agca's notori- 
ety, maintaining that both the Bulgarians and the Turks who allegedly 
assisted Agca should have known precisely with whom they were deal- 

1 3 . See, e.g., George Kennan, The Nuclear Delusion: Soviet-American Relations in the 
Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon, 1982); John Lowenhardt, Decision-Making in Soviet 
Politics (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981 ); and Jerry Hough and Merle Fainsod, How 
the Soviet Union is Governed (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979). 

14. Cited in "The Papal Attack Background," Intelligence Digest (Great Britain). Oc- 
tober I, 1981. 



16 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ing and could not plead ignorance that "Farouk Ozgun" was in fact 
Agca, the wanted criminal.' 5 Yet precisely this notoriety would have 
caused any intelligence service to steer clear of Agca. 

Operational ineptitude: (2) the Sofia gambit. In explaining the lack of 
any direct evidence for Bulgarian or Soviet involvement, Claire Sterling 
and her associates have always retreated to the notion that the KGB is a 
very professional body that does things well, covers its tracks, and oper- 
ates from a base of "plausible deniability." Thus the very lack of evi- 
dence, according to the Sterling school, pointed to a Soviet hand in the 
plot. In the version of the Connection developed in the second half of 
1982 by Sterling in the Reader's Digest and by Marvin Kalb on NBC- 
TV, the implausibility of bringing Agca to a prominent hotel in Sofia to 
be recruited and/or to get his instructions was not mentioned. In the in- 
terest of maintaining plausible deniability, however, Sofia is the last 
place to which any Bulgarian co-conspirators would want Agca to be 
traced. If contact between Agca and Bulgarian officials were observed 
by western agents in Sofia — certainly a reasonable possibility — the 
logic of hiring a fascist to provide a cover for a Bulgarian- and KGB- 
sponsored plot would be badly compromised from the start. 

Thus the presence of Agca in Sofia, rather than supporting a Bulga- 
rian Connection, tends to undermine it. In fact, it more readily supports 
two alternative views. The first is that someone wanted Agca to be 
linked to Bulgaria before he got on with his assassination attempt, after 
which he could be worked over at leisure until he "confessed." The 
second, which we believe to be entirely valid, is that because Agca had 
stayed in Sofia, Italian and other western intelligence services and prop- 
agandists seized the opportunity to build a case which, with an induced 
confession, would be salable in the well-conditioned West. 

Operational ineptitude: (3) the assassination attempt. Another major 
operational difficulty with the hypothesis of the Bulgarian Connection is 
the gross ineptitude of the assassination attempt. It is hard to imagine a 
more poorly managed plan of attack than the one employed in Rome. 
Agca not only failed to kill the Pope, but he himself was neither rescued 

IS. On a number of occasions Turkish authorities were notified that Agca had been 
sighted in Italy, Switzerland, or West Germany, and unsuccessfully requested that he be 
arrested For some reason, no negative implications have been attached to the West Ger- 
man. Swiss, and Italian authorities for their failure to apprehend Agca, despite lengthy 
stays in their countries and repeated Turkish protestations 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



17 



nor killed. Writings and other items found in Agca's room and on his 
person after his arrest would have helped incriminate and identify him, 
even if he had escaped or been killed. On the whole there was nothing in 
this operation that even hinted at the alleged professionalism of the 
Soviet-Bloc intelligence services. Rather, the obvious amateurishness 
of the assassination tactics fits far better an operation managed by Agca 
and perhaps a few of his friends. 

Operational ineptitude: (4) the Bulgarian involvement in Rome. The op- 
erational weaknesses of the alleged Plot reached epic proportions after 
Agca had declared that Bulgarian state officials met with him and 
guided his movements in Rome. Proponents of the case would have us 
believe that the Bulgarian secret service involved its agents in direct 
contact, planning, and tactical maneuvers with Agca up to the moment 
of the assassination attempt itself. Agca and two or three Bulgarians al- 
legedly visited St. Peter's Square on each of the two days preceding the 
assassination attempt in order to make the final plans. Not one but two 
of the Bulgarians would allegedly drive Agca to the Square, and one 
Bulgarian official would use smoke bombs to divert the crowd's atten- 
tion so that Agca could get a good shot and/or make a getaway. This 
would, of course, entail serious risk of a Bulgarian being arrested right 
at the scene of the crime, the very thing that hiring a Turk with right- 
wing credentials was supposed to avoid, according to the Sterling- 
Henze model! 

In his early declarations implicating the Bulgarians, Agca even 
claimed that he visited Antonov and Aivazov in their homes in the Em- 
bassy compound; and in one instance, just days before the assassination 
attempt, he supposedly met Antonov's wife and young daughter. This 
latter statement was subsequently "withdrawn," but this was not done 
on the basis of scrutiny or ridicule on the part of the western press, nor 
doubts and investigative efforts by Martella. The accumulated con- 
tradictions and exposed lies, as we shall see, had simply become too 
top-heavy to sustain. 

The lag in Agca's confession. It took Agca more than 17 months after 
his arrest to name his Bulgarian co-conspirators — six months after he 
had agreed to "tell all." Investigating Magistrate Martella never 
bothered to explain this long time lag. Sterling explained the delay as a 
result of Agca's expectation that the Bulgarians and KGB would get him 
out of prison. But she never indicated how the Bulgarians could do this 



18 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



without admitting guilt and once again contradicting the logic of em- 
ploying a rightwing assassin." 

These weaknesses in the case were never overcome. The most inter- 
esting questions, therefore, are why, by whom, and how so implausible, 
undocumented, and internally contradictory a Plot was created and sus- 
tained in the Italian courts and in the western press for a three-year 
period. 



The First Trial: Agca's Fast One of 1981 



While there were immediate efforts to link the Soviets to the assassina- 
tion attempt, when the Italian government brought Agca to trial in July 
1981 any co-conspirators were assumed to have b«en fellow Turks and 
members of the Gray Wolves. Yet little was revealed by the trial, and no 
solid information about any possible conspiracy was forthcoming. 

It is puzzling that the Italian authorities moved to try Agca so quickly, 
before the investigation of a conspiracy could be completed. One possi- 
ble explanation is that Italian authorities wished to have him convicted 
and under their control, and feared that any delay would increase the 
possibility that Agca would be found mentally incompetent to stand 
trial. Media reports about Agca's childhood and Turkish background, 
combined with his wild lies under interrogation, raised the possibility 
that he was seriously deranged. Indeed, Agca's court-appointed 
lawyer — Pietro d'Ovidio, a frequent defender of rightwing criminals — 
asked the court to delay the trial until Turkish authorities could furnish 
the court with copies of psychiatric examinations conducted at the time 
of Agca's murder trial in 1979. The court ruled, however, that the con- 
tents of these examinations (which had allegedly said that Agca was 
medically competent to stand trial) were known through press reports, 
and d'Ovidio's request was refused. 

At the opening of his trial, Agca maintained that he acted alone. "I 
did not want to talk to anyone about my plan to kill the Pope," he said. 
"I acted independently, in the name of truth above ideologies. I do not 
belong to any organization. International terrorism as I conceive it is not 
concerned with ideology. It needs no idea. It needs a gun." 17 Shortly 

16 This issue is discussed below in this chapter and in Chapter 6. 

17 Cited in Paul Henze, The Plot To Kill the Pope (New York: Charles Scribner's 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



19 



after making this statement Agca announced that he would take no more 
part in the trial, and attempted to dismiss his lawyer. The prosecutor, 
saying that "no one can understand or even guess the reason behind this 
act," called Agca "the son of modem-day terrorism, that sinister afflic- 
tion of our time," and described the assassination attempt as "symbolic 
patricide . " 1 8 At the end of his three day trial , therefore , the jury deliber- 
ated for six hours and sentenced Agca to life imprisonment. He would 
be eligible for parole in 30 years. 

The Court's decision, however, also observed that "the plea of guilty 
by the accused must not close the case, since it is necessary still to ex- 
plore certain aspects of the affair and to throw light on the background 
from which a crime of this kind emerged."" Thus, when the Court is- 
sued its full 51 -page "Statement of Motivation" on September 24, 
1981, Agca was described as "only the visible point of a conspiracy 
which, though impossible to define, was widespread and menacing and 
devised by shadowy forces." The report described Agca's act as the 
"fruit of a complex machination orchestrated by hidden minds inter- 
ested in creating new conditions of destabilization. ' ' Despite the Court's 
uncertainty over the precise relations between Agca and the Gray 
Wolves — "which not even the Turkish authorities were able to render 
intelligible" — the Statement of Motivation maintained that Agca was 
"not a religious fanatic" but a disciplined and well-trained terrorist well 
suited to carry out a "confidential task." "One must ask oneself," 
maintained the report, whether an organization which had broken Agca 
out of prison and supported him financially and in other ways between 
that time and the assassination attempt "would have permitted him to 
take a personal initiative that was not in keeping with a common plan 
worked out in advance in all its details." 2 " 

Sons, 1985), p. 7. We are citing the revised paper edition. The original edition was pub- 
lished in 1983. 

18. Henry Tanner, "Italian Prosecutor Requests a Life Sentence for the Pope's Assail- 
ant," New York Times, July 22, 1981; "Manic Motives," Newsweek, August 31, 1981, 
p. 38. 

19. Marietta Report, p. 9(1 1). In citing Judge Martella's unpublished Report, we use 
two sets of page numbers. The first refers to the English-language translation made avail- 
able to the authors by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a nongov- 
ernmental organization in consultative status with UNESCO; the second, in parentheses, 
refers to the original Italian version. 

20. Henry Tanner, "Attack on Pope A Conspiracy, Court Says," New York Times, 
September 25. 1981; and John Earle, "Pope 'Victim of Hidden Conspiracy,' " London 
Times, September 25, 1981. The Court's Statement of Motivation was supported by, and 



20 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The Bulgarian Connection Emerges 



The publication of the Statement of Motivation followed by three weeks 
the airing of a British television program on the assassination attempt 
which anticipated many of the ideas which were later developed as the 
"Bulgarian Connection." The program was produced by Julian Man- 
yon, a rightwing reporter for Thames Television's "TV Eye"; Paul 
Henze served as a consultant. The broadcast claimed that the Pope was 
shot because of his inspirational relationship to Poland's Solidarity, an 
idea developed in the program primarily by Francesco Mazzola, the Ital- 
ian junior minister in charge of the Italian security forces at the time of 
the shooting. Mazzola noted that, at the time of the assassination at- 
tempt, the Pope had recently met with Lech Walesa, and was about to 
announce his return to Poland to administer the last rites to Cardinal 
Wyszynski. According to Mazzola, the Soviets believed that such a visit 
would produce a potentially dangerous series of anticommunist demon- 
strations; and Mazzola maintained that the Vatican was convinced that 
this was why the Pope had been shot. 

The "TV Eye" program also extracted several items from Agca's 
early declarations which were to re-emerge in Claire Sterling's Reader's 
Digest article, "The Plot to Kill the Pope." It claimed that Agca stayed 
in Bulgaria for 60 days, that his contact there with one Omer Mersan 
helped him to obtain his forged Turkish passport, and that Mersan intro- 
duced him to a mysterious "Mustafa Eof. " According to Mazzola, 
Mustafa Eof was Agca's contact with the Bulgarian secret service and 
supplied Agca with money, documentation, and instructions. Eof sup- 
posedly met Agca again in Tunis, where he had fled following the mur- 
der of a Turkish Gray Wolves leader in West Germany. Mazzola main- 
tained that Eof directed Agca's apparently random wanderings through- 
out Western Europe, which were all somehow directed toward the at- 
tack on the Pope." The only evidence presented by Mazzola, Manyon, 

probably drew on, a report by (he anti-terrorist police force DIGOS, dated September 15, 
198 1 . This report summarized information gathered up to that point on Agca's travels and 
associations, and traced the history of the assassination weapon from its Belgium man- 
ufacturer to an Austria gun dealer (Marietta Report, pp. 9-16(12-18).) Claire Sterling, in 
her account of the Statement of Motivation in The Time of the Assassins, neglects to men- 
tion that it connects Agca with the Gray Wolves. 

21 Michael Knipe, "West Germans Now Believe KGB Inspired Attack on Pope," 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



21 



or anyone else that a conspiracy existed, however, was a photograph 
showing a figure fleeing from the Square, supposedly in the moments 
just following the assassination attempt. 22 Agca subsequently identified 
this individual as a Bulgarian, and still later as his Turkish friend Oral 
Celik, but never as Mustafa Eof. The latter has disappeared from sight, 
and may reasonably be presumed to have been a figment of Agca's 
imagination. 

The Martella Investigation. The Court's conclusion that Agca had been 
part of a conspiracy returned the case to the Public Prosecutor; and on 
November 7, 1981 , the Prosecutor appointed Magistrate Ilario Martella 
to conduct the investigation. 23 In accordance with Italian law, Martella 
was given broad powers of investigation during this, the "Instruction 
Phase" of the legal proceedings against Agca "and persons unknown. " 
His function might be compared to that of a Grand Jury in the United 
States, in that he was not constricted by formal rules of evidence and 
there was no burden of proof on the prosecution. Like a Grand Jury, the 
Instruction Phase is supposed to be secret. The examining magistrate is 
also supposed to pursue lines of investigation that would demonstrate 
the innocence, as well as the guilt, of the accused. Finally, the Instruc- 
tion Phase culminates in a decision whether there is sufficient evidence 
to bring the accused to trial. 24 

Martella began his investigation by re-interviewing the witnesses to 
the assassination attempt and by asking a team of forensic experts to in- 
vestigate how many bullets had been fired. These efforts revealed little 
new information. The forensic experts concluded that one pistol had 
fired two bullets. 2 ' The eyewitnesses apparently had little to add to their 

London Times, September 5, 1981. 

22. This photograph, taken by Lowell Newton, is discussed below 

23 For a fuller treatment of Martella's handling of the Bulgarian Connection case, see 

Chapter 5, pp. I 14-21 

24. G. Leroy Certoma, The Italian Le gal System (London: Butterworth, 1985), p. 219; 

cited in International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Report of the International 

Commission of Study and Information on "The Anlonov Affair" (Brussels: May 13, 

1985), pp 7-8. 

25 Martella Report, pp 22-27(25-30) Martella eventually concluded that a second 
gunman must have fired a third bullet. While there was disagreement among the witnesses 
as to how many bullets were fired, Martella never explained why he overruled his forensic 
experts in deciding that there must have been three bullets fired. It was this conclusion, 
and the equally shaky conclusion that Agca had fired only two bullets, which led Martella 
to state in his final Report that Agca had been accompanied by a second gunman on the 



22 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



trial testimony, although Lowell Newton, the U.S. photographer who 
had taken the picture of a man running away from St. Peter's Square im- 
mediately after the shooting, who he said was carrying a gun, provided 
a detailed description of Agca's apparent accomplice. 26 

We now come to a critical period in the fabrication of the Bulgarian 
Connection. According to Martella's Report, sometime in late April 
1982 Agca told the prison authorities that he wished to make a state- 
ment. The "new Agca" was suddenly voluble and cooperative, giving 
Martella for the first time plausible testimony on some of his Gray 
Wolves associates and connections." Most significantly, Agca began to 
bring the Bulgarians into his story, at first incidentally and tentatively, 
but later moving them to the front of the stage. 

Why did Agca suddenly decide to talk? On this question Martella's 
Report is silent, implying that Agca had simply decided to cooperate 
and tell "the truth. " Claire Sterling and others committed to the validity 
of the Bulgarian Connection maintain that Agca decided to talk because 
he realized that his hopes of being rescued from prison by the Bulgar- 

day of the assassination attempt. This unexamined aspect of Martella's Report, of course, 
provided the media with its headlines and lead paragraphs when the Report was released 
in late October 1984. The effect of this was to reinforce, if only subliminally, support for 
a Bulgarian Connection, even though the second gunman was presumed to be the Gray 
Wolves leader. Oral Celik, not one of the Bulgarians. 

26. Martella Report, pp. 19-21 (22-24). According to Newton, the man ran towards and 
past him. carrying a gun in front of him. Newton, who said he wailed for the man to run 
past him before using his camera, later "pointed out a def inite resemblance" betwaen the 
running man and a photograph of Celik, according to a letter he later sent to Martella in 
April 1984. Soon after his original deposition for Martella, however, Newton had iden- 
tified the man in the Square as identical to one AM Chafic," whose picture was circu- 
lated as a composite drawing by the Reagan administration after the "Libyan hit squad" 
furor in November 1981 . ("Conspiracy to Kill the Pope," Time, January 1 1 , 1982, p. 31; 
and James Coates, "FBI Probes Libyan Link to Pope Attack." Chicago Tribune, January 
10, 1982.) It was later discovered that this secret official U.S. list of "Libyan hit squad" 
members included Nabih Bern and the names of other prominent members of the 
Lebanese Shiite party Amal and aging Lebanese parliamentarians; but this information 
was suppressed in the United Slates. See Duncan Campbell and Patrick Forbes. New 
Statesman, August 16, 1985. 

27 Exactly how valuable this information was is hard to determine. Martella's Report 
only occasionally contains actual quotations from his interviews with Agca. More typi- 
cally it offers summaries and reconstructions of Agca's responses to his questions In light 
of the complete breakdown of Agca as a useful witness during the trial that began in May 
1985, the accuracy of Martella's Report in even correctly reconstructing Agca's state- 
ments is seriously open to question. It seems very likely that Martella sifted from Agca's 
changing and conflicting statements a more-or-less logical version of what might have 
happened. Thus Martella's Report must be used with caution in reconstructing even the 
flow of the investigation. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



23 



ians — either in a jail break, through a prisoner exchange, or by being 
ransomed — would not be fulfilled. 28 

On the other hand, in December 1982, immediately after the arrest of 
the Bulgarian Antonov, a mass of details and allegations were published 
in the Italian press strongly suggesting that Agca was pressured or 
bribed to "confess." Martella's Report is notable for its failure to ex- 
plore the possibility that Agca was coached; and, as we will see in 
Chapter 5, Martella was an important part of the machinery of an in- 
duced confession. 

What and when did Agca tell Martella about his alleged Bulgarian co- 
conspirators? Throughout his "confessions" during the first week in 
May there was apparently only a single reference to Bulgarian coopera- 
tion. According to Martella's Report, sometime in early 1981 Agca con- 
tacted a Syrian in Sofia who had earlier attempted to help out with his 
passport difficulties. A few days later, Agca told Martella, they met in 
Vienna and, "during a meeting held in the presence of a Bulgarian dip- 
lomat named Petronov, [the Syrian] not only gave Agca the sum of 
100,000 Austrian schillings but promised him that, if he managed to or- 
ganize some terrorist attack against the European Parliament, NATO, or 
the Common Market, he would receive in return unconditional hospital- 
ity in Syria, Bulgaria, or East Germany." 29 

Agca's wild tale of a meeting in the presence of a mythical Bulgarian 
diplomat named "Petronov" was the only time that any charge of Bul- 
garian cooperation was recorded by Martella until late October 1982. 30 
Then, under questioning about his companion or companions in St. 

28 On December 20, 1981 , Agca began a hunger strike thai lasted for 10 days Claire 
Sterling is fond of pointing out that Agca was repeating the Turkish scenario of 1979, dur- 
ing his trial for the murder of the Turkish newspaper editor Abdi Ipekci. That is, Agca's 
hunger strike was a "signal" to the Bulgarians to release him "or else," and when a suit- 
able period of time had gone by Agca began to talk, as he had earlier threatened to do in 
Turkey before he was broken out of prison (For a critique of Sterling's "signaling" 
theory, see Chapter 6, pp 1 38-40.) Sterling and company also advanced the hypothesis 
that Agca began to talk when he was confronted with the "information" that his alleged 
Bulgarian co-conspirators intended to have him killed in St Peter's Square, but bungled 
the job. This was also the conclusion of La Siampa, which reported that "What convinced 
[AgcaJ to talk were the conclusions of the investigators . who found out that Agca's 
accomplices, if the killer made it out safe and sound from St. Peter's Square, were going 
to eliminate him instead of bringing him to safety across the border." "Pressure on Agca 
Reported," Philadelphia Inquirer [UPI], December 8, 1982. 

29. Martella Report, p. 45(50). 

30. On January 27, 1 984. Agca admitted to Martella that his story about Petronov was a 
figment of his imagination. This means that before October 1 982 Agca had not named a 
single nonfictional Bulgarian in all of his extensive interrogations. Martella Report, pp. 
407(534-35) 



24 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Peter's Square on May 13, Agca suddenly began to tell Martella about 
his Bulgarian co-conspirators. And a week later Agca picked three Bul- 
garians out of a photo album, telling Martella that these were the men 
who organized the assassination attempt on the Pope and assisted him 
on the day of the assassination attempt itself. Was this, again, simply a 
matter of Agca finally deciding to tell the "truth"? Or had something 
happened in the interim to persuade Agca not only to continue talking 
but to talk about the Bulgarians? 

Art Anticipates Reality. Indeed, much had happened between the 
"new" Agca's confessions of May and those of late October. Most im- 
portant, in the interim Claire Sterling had published her article in the 
Reader's Digest arguing that Agca was acting on behalf of the Bulga- 
rians, and NBC-TV had broadcast its special "white paper," "The Man 
Who Shot the Pope: A Study in Terrorism." While neither of these ef- 
forts contributed any new information, they sketched a model of a 
"Bulgarian Connection" which was adopted and embroidered on by 
Agca. 

Sterling's article, "The Plot To Murder The Pope," was published in 
the September issue of the Reader's Digest, which reached subscribers 
in mid-August. Despite the many lies and contradictions in Agca's 
evolving confessions, Sterling's Reader's Digest article relied heavily 
on Agca's May 1981 declarations that he had been trained at a Syrian/ 
PLO camp in Lebanon, and that his primary political connections in 
Turkey were with the Left and not the Right. Both in the Reader's Di- 
gest and later. Sterling maintained that whatever links Agca had with 
the Gray Wolves were a cover for his real, leftist sympathies. Sterling 
found the chief link between Agca and the Bulgarians in the Turkish 
smuggler Abuzer Ugurlu, who she claimed worked hand-in-glove with 
Bulgarian authorities. Sterling also introduced Ugurlu's associate Omer 
Mersan, who was later to tell an Italian court that he had given $770 to 
Agca (who he knew under another name) at Ugurlu's behest. Out of 
these "links" Sterling created a chain of command by which the Bulga- 
rians induced their agent Ugurlu to hire Agca to shoot the Pope. 

Five weeks after Sterling's story reached the public, NBC-TV broad- 
cast "The Man Who Shot the Pope: A Study in Terrorism." The pro- 
gram, which was narrated by Marvin Kalb, employed Sterling and Paul 
Henze as consultants. While many of its points had already been made 
by Sterling, perhaps the chief characteristic of the report was its stress 
on the Soviet's motive in shooting the Pope. According to NBC, the 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



25 



Pope posed a threat to the Soviets because of his support for Solidarity 
and Polish nationalism, and more particularly from his alleged warning 
to the Soviet leadership that an invasion of Poland would cause him to 
lay down his crown and join the Polish resistance. While this claim has 
never been supported by any evidence, and has been consistently re- 
futed by Vatican spokesmen, 31 the Pope's alleged threat to the Soviets 
was the heart of the NBC case. Like the earlier "TV Eye" program, 
NBC relied heavily on former Italian Security Minister Mazzola to sup- 
port the plausibility of such risky (and foolish) action by the Soviets. 
And, as in Sterling's Reader's Digest article, the program stated that 
Agca had been recruited by the KGB before he ever left his hometown, 
and that his subsequent association with the Right in Turkey was only a 
cover for his real commitment to the Left. The mass of detail which 
showed that Agca had been assisted by this rightwing network of Turks 
in the two years before shooting the Pope was thus dismissed as irrele- 
vant, because if Agca had already been recruited by the KGB , the right- 
wing network also must have been manipulated by the Soviets and their 
agents. Finally, the NBC program concluded with the interesting obser- 
vation that a Soviet plot against the Pope was not without precedent, cit- 
ing as examples the U.S. plots against Lumumba, Castro, and "possi- 
bly" Qaddafi! 

One significant U.S. follow-up to the NBC program was the hearing 
held by the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe on September 23, 1982, two days after the NBC broadcast. The 
Commission, which had been established to oversee Soviet compliance 
with the Helsinki Accords, heard Claire Sterling, Michael Ledeen, and 
Bulgarian emigre Atanas Slavov. The Commissioners were unanimous 
in their certainty that the Bulgarians and the Soviets were behind the 
Plot. Claire Sterling outlined for the Committee the version of the assas- 
sination plot which she had recently written for Reader's Digest. She 
implied that great significance lay in the fact that Solidarity and the 
Polish government ratified the Gdansk agreement on August 3 1 , 1980, 
the same day that Agca left Bulgaria for Western Europe. She also told 
the Committee that no one from any of the U.S. intelligence agencies 
had discussed her findings with her." 

3 1 . See Chapter 7, p. 200. 

32. The hearing was apparently held at the urging of Commission member Representa- 
tive Donald Ritter of Pennsylvania. A guest at the hearing was Senator Alfonse D' Amato 
of New York, who declared that (a) he had talked with the monsignor in the Vatican who 
had delivered the alleged message from the Pope to the Soviet Union; (b) the Vatican was 



26 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The most significant outcome of the efforts of Sterling and NBC was 
to frame the case in Italy itself. On October 5 Judge Martella flew to 
Washington, according to the Washington Post, "in hope of evaluating 
two recent U.S. media reports suggesting that Soviet Bloc intelligence 
agencies were involved." Martella told a Post reporter that, while no 
hard evidence existed linking the eastern Bloc to the plot, "he could not 
rule out the possibility." According to the Post, Martella "has asked 
the Justice Department to help him obtain meetings with persons famil- 
iar with the case including, possibly, the journalists responsible for the 
NBC and Reader's Digest articles. ' '" He is known to have met with Ar- 
naud de Borchgrave and to have been given a special viewing of the 
NBC-TV program on the Plot Against the Pope. 

On October 29, according to Martella's Report, the interrogation of 
Agca was renewed. Martella asked Agca about the reports of several 
witnesses, supported by the Lowell Newton photograph, that Agca had 
been assisted by at least one other person in St. Peter's Square on the 
day of the shooting. Agca readily volunteered the information that 
"there was in fact another person . . . , namely the Bulgarian citizen 
Sotir Kolev'' who had been introduced to him in Sofia "as an expert on 
terrorism in Europe." Shortly after several meetings with Kolev, Agca 
told Martella, his companion Oral Celik arrived in Sofia. His coming, 
according to Agca, was determined "by the opportunity to plan terrorist 
acts in Europe, using the 'Gray Wolves' in the interests of countries 
within the Soviet sphere such as Bulgaria." The most important such 
act, according to Agca, was a projected assassination of the Pope. 

According to Martella's Report, on the day that Agca first named his 
Bulgarian contact, " Kolev," he placed him at the center of an elaborate 
conspiracy which would net him and his gang over a million dollars in 
exchange for killing the Pope. The money would be paid into Celik 's 
bank account by Turkish businessman Bekir Celenk. 34 One-third of this 

convinced that the Soviet Union was behind the assassination; (c) he had told this to the 
CIA on October 19, 1981: and (d) he had met with Claire Sterling immediately after his 
return from Italy "and began to compare some notes." ("The Assassination Attempt on 
Pope John Paul II," Hearing Before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe, 97th Congress, 2nd Session [September 23, 1982], p. 12.) At the hearing Senator 
Patrick Leahy of Vermont said that, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he 
had been briefed by the CIA about the possible Soviet role in the papal assassination at- 
tempt on more than one occasion (p. 3), though no dates were given. 

33. Robert J. McCartney, "Plodding Inquiry Studies Bulgarian Link," Washington 
Post, October 6, 1982. 

34. Despite Agca's claim that it was actually paid and was thus presumably traceable. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



27 



sum would go to Musa Celebi's Western European network of Gray 
Wolves in exchange for the support they would provide Agca and his 
companions; and it was Celebi who supposedly telephoned Agca the go- 
ahead signal at the end of April 1981. Meanwhile "Kolev," according 
to plan, arrived in Rome at the beginning of May to supervise last- 
minute operations. Together he and Agca cased the Square, and 
"Kolev" made arrangements for Agca to stay at a guest house under the 
name of Ozgun. On the following day "Kolev" pointed out another 
Bulgarian — "Bayramic" — who was to assist Agca in escaping after the 
assassination. 

The most significant step in Agca's identification of the Bulgarians 
came a week later. On November 8 Agca was shown a photograph 
album of 56 Bulgarians living in Rome since 1977. He was asked if any 
of the people in the photos were "Kolev" or "Bayramic." Agca im- 
mediately identified the first photograph as that of "Kolev," and the 
second as "Bayramic."" Agca then went on to identify the person in 
photograph number 20 as "Petrov," a military attache at the Bulgarian 
Embassy. "I admit that I have not so far referred to this person in order 
not to worsen my case," Agca told Martella, saying that he had no cor- 
roborating evidence. But Agca then stated that he had known "Petrov" 
since November 1980, having been given the Embassy telephone 
number by Celenk in Sofia in August. 36 

this money has never been located in the course of four years of Italian official investiga- 
tions. During the Rome trial, also, Yalcin Ozbey, a member of the Gray Wolves and close 
friend of Agca, testified on September 20, 1985, that Celik had visited him in West Ger- 
many, and had not only failed to mention the receipt of any money, but even had to bor- 
row from Ozbey for current expenses. 

35. Later, on June 28, 1983, Agca stated that, at the time of his identification of 
' * Bayramic . " he did not know that his real name was Antonov or that Antonov worked for 
Balkan Air. But when it was "recorded that the person I recognised as 'Bayramic' was 
Sergei Antonov, employed at the 'Balkan Air,' not only did I declare falsely that I 
knew the real occupation of Bayramic, but also that I knew by heart the two telephone 
numbers of Balkan Air. " Agca then went on to declare that he had learned these telephone 
numbers when Martella briefly steppad out of the room and he was able to consult a tele- 
phone directory. Marietta Report, pp. 372-73(486-87). 

36. When he first mentioned Celenk to Martella in May 1982, Agca had said that "he 
had not talked directly with Celenk" but had only seen him and had him identified at a 
distance. Subsequently, Agca read Mumcu's book Arms Smuggling and Terrorism, in 
which Celenk was a featured performer. The Turkish journalist Orsan Oymen points out 
that following his reading of this new source, Agca related episodes from Mumcu's book 
in the form "I was told by Celenk" that such-and-such had occurred! Martella never 
caught on to this process. See Orsan Oymen, "Behind the Scenes of the 'Agca Investiga- 



28 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



With the insights gained from his visit to Washington and Agca's 
identification of Bulgarians," Martella requested warrants for the arrest 
of Sergei Antonov (' ' Bayramic") and the military attache Jelio Vassilev 
("Petrov"). He also directed that proceedings be started against the dip- 
lomat Todor Aivazov ("Kolev"), who was protected by diplomatic im- 
munity. 

Although both Aivazov and Vassilev had already returned to Bul- 
garia, apparently as part of a routine rotation, Antonov was arrested at 
his office on November 25. His home was searched and a "guide to the 
Vatican" was confiscated. The next day the interrogation of the in- 
credulous Antonov was begun, with Martella quizzing him about each 
of Agca's statements concerning "Bayramic": Did he like flowers? Did 
he collect miniature liquor bottles? Et cetera. Martella's investigation of 
Antonov and his alibi, which occupies much of the remaining 1 ,000 
pages of his Report, reflects his belief that any contradictions in An- 
tonov 's testimony or any lapses in his memory after 18 months about 
where he was and what he was doing in May 1981 were indicative of 
Bulgarian guilt. Similarly, any shifts or contradictions in the testimonies 
of those Antonov claimed could vouch for his whereabouts at key times 
were seen by Martella as signs of connivance among the defense wit- 
nesses to get their story straight. 

While Martella's investigation largely degenerated into mere alibi 
checking following the arrest of Antonov, the sensational news that the 
Soviet Bloc had been implicated in the papal assassination attempt 
shifted the locus of the case out of the investigators' offices and back to 
the mass media, which swung behind the new story with only marginal 
reservations. The shift in tone of western media coverage as a result of 
Agca's declarations and the arrest of Antonov is well illustrated by the 
changes made in the NBC program, "The Man Who Shot the Pope," 
rebroadcast in the one-hour slot before President Reagan's "State of the 
Union" message on January 25, 1983. information about Agca's Tur- 
kish roots was almost entirely deleted, and the sole concern of the pro- 
gram was to present — with a supportive framework and completely un- 
critically — Agca's declarations that the Bulgarians had done it. What- 

lion,' " Milliyel, November 1984. 

37. We show in Chapter 5 thai the photo albums were almost certainly shown to Agca 
prior to the identification parade of November 8. 1982. We will see, also, that the photos 
allegedly showing Bulgarians on the scene on May 1 3 were misidentified by Agca (the 
Lowell Newton photo of the flseing person) or probably fabricated by a source not yet 
identified (the photo showing Antonov in the Square) 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



29 



ever tentativeness the earlier program had contained the rebroadcast de- 
leted. And where the original program had concluded with the some- 
what startling point that a Soviet-backed conspiracy was conceivable 
because of earlier U.S. assassination plots against Castro and 
Lumumba, the rebroadcast dropped this point and concluded with a 
ringing warning that the failure of western governments, particularly the 
United States, to pursue the case aggressively wherever it might lead 
was tantamount to treason. "The Reagan administration," intoned Mar- 
vin Kalb, "is etching no profile in courage, allowing Italy to stand alone 
against the fury of the Soviet Union." For the Reagan administration, 
and particularly for the CIA, proof of Soviet guilt "could shatter hopes 
for detente, trade, and arms agreements." "The continuing investiga- 
tion," concluded Kalb, "has the potential of a time bomb ticking away 
in a comer of East-West relations." 38 



The Baroque Era of the Bulgarian Connection 



Once Agca had begun to talk about "Kolev" and the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion, there suddenly seemed no end to the "Connections" which he 
could reveal. He claimed to have been sent by the Bulgarians on a sur- 
veillance mission to Malta and Tunisia to check out whether it would be 
feasible to assassinate their heads of state, Dom Mintoff and Habib 
Bourguiba. He spoke of spying in Switzerland and of plotting to kill 
Lech Walesa. His testimony also linked the plot to kill the Pope to on- 
going investigations into Bulgarian state involvement with smuggling 39 
and with the Red Brigades. Each of these alleged plots, complex in 
themselves and resting often on Agca's testimony alone, "confirmed" 
each other through repetition and through their sensational treatment by 
the mass media. The media also developed their own information from 
intelligence agencies and defectors to help forward the chorus of a Bul- 
garian Connection. 40 The cumulative effect of all this was to consolidate 
western belief in the truth of the Bulgarian Connection. Yet the support 
given by these tangential plots and scandals to the basic claims was only 

38. " The Man Who Shot the Pope: A Study of Terrorism. Update. " January 25, 1983. 
8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Official transcript, pp. 61-62. 

39. We take up this thread of investigation-propaganda in Chapter 3 and Appendix B 

40. Sse the discussion in Chapter 7 of the "Mantarov Connection" developed by the 
New York Times. 



30 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



atmospheric, producing no real evidence to strengthen Judge Martella's 
case. 

The ' 'Plot" to Kill Lech Walesa. By far the most important of the sec- 
ondary plots that emerged out of Agca's testimony was the alleged con- 
spiracy to kill Lech Walesa. Agca first mentioned such a plot on 
November 8, 1982. But the issue apparently was not investigated in 
depth until December 29, 1982, when he was interrogated by magis- 
trates Priore and Imposimato, who were conducting further inquiries 
into the case of the Red Brigades and one of their leaders, Agca's prison 
neighbor Giovanni Senzani. Once again Agca was shown the album of 
56 photographs, and once again he identified his three Bulgarian co- 
conspirators. On this occasion, however, "Agca not only recognised 
the same photographs that he had identified before . . . , but he also 
stated that he recognised in photo no. 8 Mr. Ivan Tomov." 41 According 
to the Martella Report, Agca told the magistrates: 42 

During our meetings Ivan Tomov and Kolev expounded to us a plan to kill 
Walesa when he came to Italy. According to this plan I was supposed to take 
part in the murder of Walesa using a pistol or a remote-controlled plastic bomb. 
Ivan Tomov and Kolev told me that the choice of which method to use would 
depend on information that would certainly come from Italian trade unionists 
who were close to Walesa — people who were in contact with them and who 
could supply them with all the necessary details about Walesa's itinerary. 

In a further interview on February 4, 1983, Agca again stated that he 
had plotted with the three Bulgarians indicted in the papal conspiracy 
and with the Bulgarian Dontchev ("Ivan Tomov" 's real name) to kill 
Walesa in January 1981 . Again Agca repeated details of their prepara- 
tions and of the spots chosen for the assassination. But now he stated 
that the plans were canceled "because [Dontchev] told us that he had 
learned from an Italian trade unionist whose name I don't know that the 
Italian Secret Service had by now received the 'information' of a possi- 
ble assassination attempt against Walesa. ' '" Martella questioned Agca 

41. Manella Report, p. 132(181-82). 

42. Ibid., pp. 132-33(182-83) 

43. Ibid., pp. 358-59(467-68). The "Italian trade unionist" in question was undoubted- 
ly Luigi Scricciolo. The "Scricciolo Affair" remains among the murkiest aspects of the 
Bulgarian Connection. Scricciolo had been arrested in February 1982 and charged with 
being an accessory in the kidnapping of General James Dozier, who had been held by the 
Red Brigades for six weeks, from mid-December 1981 to late January 1 982, before being 
rescued by the Italian police But while allegedly spying for Bulgaria, Scricciolo had 
worked closely with the AFL-CIO. arranging for Solidarity delegates to attend two meet- 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



31 



on this subject again on February 1 1 , and a week later sent a recommen- 
dation to the Attorney General of the Court of Appeal in Rome that in- 
dictments be issued in this alleged conspiracy. After some jurisdictional 
juggling, Martella's investigation into the conspiracy to murder Walesa 
was renewed in mid-April.*' 

Then, somewhat mysteriously, came Agca's "Retraction" of June 
28, 1983. In that part of Agca's retraction concerning the Walesa plot, 
Agca maintained that he had never met Dontchev, and that the details 
which he gave to Judge Imposimato on December 29, 1982 concerning 
the plot had been learned from listening to Imposimato read portions of 
the testimony of an indicted trade unionist — Luigi Scricciolo — to Judge 
Priore. He also said that he was able to pick out Dontchev from the 
photo album because Imposimato showed him Dontchev' s picture and 
said, "This is Ivan Tomov, Scricciolo's friend, do you recognise him?" 
While Agca continued to maintain that he and his papal co-conspirators 
discussed killing Walesa, he now said the plot never went anywhere. 

On August 23 Martella charged Agca with slander against himself 
and the others. During his examination of September 15, 1983, Agca 
admitted that he had lied — "in order to make my declarations more 
credible." 45 But Martella persisted in pressing Agca on how he knew so 
many details, because none of them was contained in any of Scric- 
ciolo's interrogations prior to December 29; and so even if Judge Im- 
posimato had read portions of these interrogations to Judge Priore in 
Agca's presence, Agca could not have learned the details to which he 
confessed at that time. 46 

There the matter has rested. Agca has maintained rather lamely that 
he was able to lie in such detail because his interrogators asked him 
questions in a yes-or-no fashion and he was able to make lucky guesses. 

ings at the U.S. Embassy, one with a U.S. diplomat and a second with an assistant to 
AFL-CIO chief Lane Kirkland . (For a warm letter of solidarity to Scricciolo from AFL- 
CIO representative Irving Brown, see Christian Roulette, La Filiere: Jean-Paul II, An- 
lonov. Agca (Paris: Editions du Sorbier, 1984), p. 265.) His later confessions of involve- 
ment with the Bulgarians in spying and in negotiations with the Red Brigades fed well into 
the ongoing Bulgarian Connection publicity. Scricciolo's involvement in the alleged 
Walesa plot remains obscure. He supposedly told investigators thai he knew of such a 
plot, and Agca later claimed to have obtained many details about the plot from hearing 
Scricciolo's earlier testimony on the matter. While Scricciolo is still in jail and awaiting 
trial, it is significant that Martella dropped all charges against Agca, Scricciolo, and the 
Bulgarians tor involvement in the Walesa plot 

44. Martella Report, p. 367(479). 

45. Ibid., p. 377(492-93). 

46. Sterling, op. cit., n. 1. pp 242-43. 



32 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Claire Sterling maintains — still — that Agca was able to provide details 
of the alleged plot against Walesa because the plot was real and Agca's 
initial declarations were true. Others — including the authors — believe 
that Agca was able to provide his detailed description because he was 
coached while he was in prison, an argument which we develop in 
Chapter 5. As for Scricciolo, whether he was a Bulgarian spy, a double 
agent, or none of the above, his case and his declarations served to give 
credibility to Agca's primary claims: that he was hired by Bulgaria to 
kill the Pope. 



The Case Starts to Unravel 



The Walesa plot, and Agca's claims of Bulgarian sponsorship of trips 
hither and yon to scout out assassination possibilities, took a toll on the 
credibility of the Bulgarian Connection, although the western media 
succeeded in keeping these matters very low key. The most serious 
damage, however, resulted from a growing list of Agca's "retractions" 
of previously key claims in his story. The first retraction came in De- 
cember 1982, after Aivazov and Vassilev held a press conference in 
Sofia to deny Agca's allegations. At this press conference it was obvi- 
ous to the assembled reporters, based on distinctive physical character- 
istics, that Aivazov (' 'Kolev") could not have been the character shown 
running away from the Square in the Lowell Newton photograph of May 
13, 1981. Three days after the press conference Agca recanted his claim 
that Kolev had been the person in the Square. 

The most significant retraction concerned Agca's claim that he had 
visited Antonov's apartment just a few days before the assassination at- 
tempt, and that while there he had met Antonov's wife and young 
daughter. This touch added seeming veracity to Agca's story, be- 
cause — if true — it showed that he was on very familiar terms with at 
least one of the alleged co-conspirators. On the other hand, Agca's 
claim seemed wildly improbable in the context of a carefully con- 
structed plot, as it violated in the extreme the cardinal rule of "plausible 
deniability." 

Antonov's defense team was able to assemble documentary evidence 
that Antonov's wife and daughter had left Rome several days before the 
time when Agca said that he had met them. Soon after news reports of 
the alibis of Mrs. Antonov and her daughter had appeared, Agca again 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



33 



adjusted his story. In an interview with Judge Martella on June 28, 
1983, Agca admitted to having lied about three crucial points. First, he 
stated that he had never met Antonov's wife and daughter, as he had 
claimed earlier. Second, he now said that he had never visited An- 
tonov's apartment at all. As in the case of his claims about Mrs. An- 
tonov, Agca's apparent ability to describe Antonov's apartment had 
added weight to his more general claims. But a telling error in his de- 
scription — his claim that Antonov's apartment was divided by a folding 
door, present in other apartments in the building, but which had been re- 
moved from Antonov's apartment before Agca's alleged visit — not only 
led to this particular retraction but also added strength to the charge 
that Agca had been coached. Finally, Agca admitted that he had never 
met the Bulgarian Dontchev, though he continued to maintain that he 
had discussed assassinating Lech Walesa with Antonov and the other 
Bulgarians. Once again, Agca's ability to describe Dontchev, whom he 
now admitted he had never met, raised questions about coaching. 

Although Agca's retractions would seem on their face to be of great 
importance in assessing the truth of the Bulgarian Connection, Italian 
authorities and the mass media kept these facts (which would have 
called into serious question the Sterling-Henze party line) almost com- 
pletely under wraps for more than a year. In late September 1983 an 
item by Henry Kamm appeared in the New York Times saying that "Ital- 
ians May Charge Turk With Slander of Jailed Bulgarian." 47 The article 
noted that Antonov's lawyer had not been notified of the nature of the 
slander. After reviewing some of the apparent weaknesses in Agca's 
story, Kamm concluded that "It could not be learned whether these 
were the reasons for the reported decision to indict Mr. Agca for slan- 
der." In late November a small item in the Times, reporting that An- 
tonov's lawyer was going to sue Agca for slander, quoted the attorney 
as saying he had been told that Mattel la's charge against Agca con- 
cerned the alleged plot against Walesa. 48 It was not until June 1984, 
nearly a year after the retraction took place, that the leaking of the Al- 
bano Report brought them into the public domain. 49 

Claire Sterling maintains that Agca's retraction was false, being 
prompted by the kidnapping of Emmanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a 

47. New York Times, September 30, 1983. 

48. "Pope's Attacker, Accused of Slandering Bulgarian, To Be Sued," New York 
Times [AP), November 26, 1983 

49 The New York Times, the original vehicle of this release, kept the retraction under 
cover for a much longer time; see Chapter 7, pp. 1 90-94. 



34 



Mil'. Ill II < IAKIAN ( I INNI ( 1 1( )N 



Vatican official. This kidnapping took place on June 22, 1983, and was 
reported in the press four days later. Agca's retractions were made to 
Judge Martella on June 28, two days after the press reports. "The kid- 
napping may have convinced him," wrote Sterling, "that his Turkish or 
Bulgarian accomplices were trying to get him out of prison." 50 But 
Sterling's interpretation is not only far-fetched, it disregards some rele- 
vant facts." First, demands for Agca's release were not made public 
until someone claiming to be one of the kidnappers called both the Vati- 
can and ANSA, the Italian news agency, on July 6. The caller to ANSA 
said that "some days ago we had contact with a Vatican secretary, a 
message that the Vatican has hidden." 52 Thus Agca's retraction pre- 
ceded, rather than followed, the kidnappers' announcement that Em- 
manuela was being held until Agca was released. Second, if Agca's re- 
tractions were made in order to influence his would-be liberators, he 
must have assumed that they had an informer in Judge Martella's office, 
for, as we noted above, these retractions were largely unknown for al- 
most a year after they were made. Moreover, when he was given an op- 
portunity for a brief exchange with the press just after Emmanuela's kid- 
napping, Agca repeatedly stated that he had been trained by the KGB 
and the "Bulgarian secret services" for his assassination attempt, and 
shouted that "I refuse any exchange." 53 Finally, while the Italian police 
received hundreds of hoax calls from people claiming to be her kidnap- 
pers, the police consistently credited the kidnapping to a group calling 
itself the "Turkish Anti-Christian Liberation Front." A call from the 
group to the Italian newspaper // Messaggero demanded that Gray 

50 "Agca recanted pari of his testimony about the purported plot on Mr. Walesa 
on June 28, 1983, as soon as he could after he found out about a kidnapping of the daugh- 
ter of a Vatican employee " Claire Sterling, "Agca's Other Story: The Plot to Kill 
Walesa," New York Times, October 27, 1984. 

51 For a fuller discussion, see Chapter 6, pp 138-40 

52. "Caller: Have Girl; Agca Must Be Free," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 7, 1983. 
Another article said that the caller told Italian news agencies that he had contacted the Vat- 
ican after the Pope's first appeal for Emmanuela's release, which was made on July 3. 
("Pope John Paul Pledges Support for Efforts to Find Missing Teenager," Philadelphia 
Inquirer, July II, 1983.) 

53. "Agca Asserts KGB Aided in Pope Plot." New York Times, July 9. 1983. As the 
Washington Post noted, both U.S. and Italian observers were convinced that Agca's infor- 
mal press conference was "not accidental." (Sari Gilbert, "Hoax Calls Regarding Agca 
Bedevil Italian Officials," July 13, 1983.) The Italians' actions were denounced by both 
the Bulgarians and the Soviets. Agca's remarks — that he had been trained by the KGB, 
that he had been trained in Syria and Bulgaria, and that the Bulgarians and Antonov were 
guilty — were featured on all three U S television networks. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



35 



Wolves leader Celebi, as well as Agca, be released. 54 While the evi- 
dence is thin, it suggests that if the kidnappers had any real link at all 
with Agca — something which the police increasingly came to doubt — 
ihey were probably part of the Gray Wolves network." 

Agca's impromptu press conference was but the first of a series of 
events following his June 28 retractions which served both to keep the 
alleged Bulgarian Connection before the public eye and to mask the 
growing weaknesses of the case. The publication in late 1983 of Ster- 
ling's The Time of the Assassins and of Henze's The Plot to Kill the 
Pope, which were received with generally respectful if not enthusiastic 
reviews, were given wide recognition and served to restate the case of 
the disinformationists." A similar effect was achieved by the publicity 
given to Agca's two-hour reenactment of his supposed movements in 
and around St. Peter's Square on the day of the assassination attempt. 
This mini-drama, which occurred on October 18, was followed on 
November 7 by a similar exercise in which Agca was taken to the street 
on which the Bulgarian Aivazov had lived, in order to see if Agca could 
identify Aivazov's house. The fact that he could not do so did not de- 
tract from the public-relations effect of the exercise, which was to re- 
vive media interest in the alleged plot." The Bulgarian Connection re- 

54. "Call to Rome Paper is Lalesl Kidnap Clue," Philadelphia Inquirer (UPI], July 
23, 1983. 

55. Sari Gilbert of the Washington Post noted that DIGOS, the Italian anti-terrorist 
police, turned the case over to the homicide squad on July 1 1 , and that the investigation 
was "now concentrating on the possibility thai the demands regarding Agca are probably 
a cover-up for something else, ranging from murder to a secret romantic elopement" 
("Hoax Calls Regarding Agca Bedevil Italian Officials," Washington Post, July 13, 
1983). A month later, however, UPI reported that Italian magistrates were investigating 
the possibility that the KGB had organized the kidnapping to discredit the Pope." "Rome 
Said to Suspect KGB Role in Abduction," New York Times, August 1 1 , 1983. 

56. See, for example, Edward J. Epstein, "Did Agca Act Alone?" New York Times 
Book Review, January 15, 1984, pp. 6-7; Gordon Crovitz, "The Bulgarian Connection," 
Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1984, p. 20. A mass market version of the pre-confes- 
sion Sterling-Henze line appeared in mid-1983, with the publication of Pontiff, by Gordon 
Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 
1983). Pontiff was serialized in a number of newspapers. As we have pointed out else- 
where, the use of evidence in this study is so appalling that none of its conclusions can be 
taken seriously. See "The Press, the K.G.B., and the Pope," The Nation, July 2, 1983, 
pp. 1, 14-17 

57 "Assassin Re-enacts His Steps Before '81 Shooting of Pope," New York Times 
[UPI], October 19, 1983; and "Assailant of Pope is Questioned," New York Times [UPI], 
November 7, 1983. 



36 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



turned to the front pages again in late December, when the Pope visited 
Agca in prison. The 21 -minute meeting received front-page coverage in 
both the Times and the Post, which reported that the Pope forgave Agca 
while the latter expressed his repentance. 58 

Downhill to the Trial. In December 1983 Judge Martella completed his 
two-year investigation and delivered his report on the case to state pro- 
secutor Antonio Albano, who had the responsibility to decide whether 
there was sufficient evidence to bring Antonov and the other accused 
Bulgarians and Turks to trial. Prosecutor Albano's Report was filed 
with the court on May 8, 1 984. The 78-page document declared that the 
evidence gathered by Judge Martella warranted bringing the defendants 
to trial, thus returning the case to Martella for a final determination of 
whether or not to proceed. The Albano Report was "leaked," and ap- 
peared first on June 10, 1984, in an extensive front-page article in the 
Sunday New York Times, authored by Claire Sterling herself. 59 

The immediate consequence of the Albano Report was to return the 
Bulgarian Connection to the headlines, now bolstered by official claims 
of Bulgarian guilt. Although primarily a rehash of earlier charges, the 
Report had two features worthy of mention. Most important, it dis- 
cussed Agca's retractions of June 28, 1983, although it explained them 
away as a "signal" to Agca's sponsors. The Report also gave promi- 
nence to Agca's contention that the getaway plan called for the assassins 
to be driven from the Square to the Bulgarian Embassy by Antonov, 
where they were to be loaded onto a Transport Intemationaux Routiers 
(TIR) truck, which would then be sealed by customs officials and driven 
across several national frontiers to Bulgaria. (Such trucks, once sealed, 
escape having their contents examined at each international border.) Al- 
bano's Report said that such a truck was in fact sealed at the Bulgarian 
Embassy on the very afternoon of the assassination attempt. 60 

58. Henry Kamm, "Pope Meets in Jail With His Attacker," New York Times, De- 
cember 28, 1983, and John Winn Miller. "Pope Visits Assailant As 'Brother,' " 
Washington Post, December 28, 1983. None of the published accounts of the Pope's visit 
included any reference to what Agca later claimed transpired, which was that the two men 
discussed Agca's belief that he was Jesus Christ and the relation of the assassination at- 
tempt to the so-called third secret of the Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima. 

59. For an analysis of Sterling's distorted summary of the Albano Report, and the Re- 
port itself, see Chapter 7, pp. 190-94 

60. While the presence of the truck on May 13 was consistent with the Bulgarian Con- 
nection hypothesis, the burden of evidence indicates that this was a coincidence unrelated 
to the events at the Square. The use of a TIR truck would be another violation of "plausi- 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



37 



On October 26, 1984, Judge Martella finally issued his own report, 
which accompanied his decision that Antonov, Agca, and other Bulga- 
rians and Turks should be brought to trial. In some respects this came as 
an anticlimax. The Martella Report contained little that was new. None 
of the problems in the case was resolved in the indictment, and no new 
evidence was advanced which removed the burden of the case from rest- 
ing entirely on Agca's credibility. The first news accounts of the indict- 
ment were written without access to Martella's Report, so that they pro- 
vided minimal information, but once again returned the prosecution's 
case to the headlines. The initial focus was on Martella's claim that 
Agca had been accompanied by a second gunman, Oral Celik, who fired 
one shot at the Pope, slightly wounding him. Newsweek announced thai 
the indictment gave "new credence to the 'Bulgarian Connection,' " 
while the New York Times editorialized that "the existence of the plot 
no longer seems conjectural." 61 

In the months separating Martella's final Report from the beginning 
of the trial in May 1985, several developments raised issues that would 
come to the fore at the trial, and that presaged Agca's wild vacillations 

ble deniabilily," which is characteristic of the entire Plot. The movement of TIR trucks is 
known to the Italian government, and the Bulgarian Embassy is surely under intelligence 
surveillance This would make their use extraordinarily risky. On the other hand, as the 
police would know about TIR truck movements, this could have been the basis of a 
coached response. During the course of the trial, Agca suddenly abandoned the TIR truck 
sequence as the primary escape route, claiming instead that an auto getaway with Gray 
Wolves was the first option, with the TIR to be held in reserve. 

Other problems with the truck as the escape vehicle are as follows: ( 1 ) the truck was 
loaded and sealed by Italian customs officials on a public street, not within the Bulgarian 
Embassy compound; (2) the Italian customs officials responsible for inspecting the truck 
have given sworn statements thai when it was sealed nobody was secreted within it; (3) if 
Celik was somehow smuggled out of Italy to Bulgaria by this route, the Bulgarians unac- 
countably allowed him to resume his travels through Europe (he has been seen in a 
number of countries in recent years); (4) the trial evidence brought out the fact that the 
Bulgarians had requested that the truck be loaded and inspected on May 1 2, but that a one- 
day delay occurred by request of Italian customs; (S) a note found in Agca's possession on 
May 13, 1981. with details of his plans, mentions a train ticket and trip to Naples, but 
nothing about Bulgarians, cars, or trucks, and (6) if, as some have suggested, the Bulga- 
rians intended (but failed) to kill Agca in Si. Peter's Square, why would they arrange for a 
truck to convey him out of harm's way? 

61. "The Pope Plot: A Second Gun,'' Newsweek. November 5, 1984, p 39; "The 
Fingerprints on Agca's Gun," New York Times, editorial, October 30, 1984 Virtually 
alone in the mass media, Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post pointed out that the only 
plot convincingly argued in Martella's Report was a Turkish plot, and that any Bulgarian 
Connection still rested on Agca's word only. "Pope Investigation Focuses on Would-be 
Assassin's Accomplices," October 28, 1984. 



38 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



on the witness stand. One was the discovery that Agca had written a let- 
ter to a military attache at the U.S. Embassy in Rome claiming that he 
had accused the Bulgarians under instructions from the United States. 
The letter, which was written in August 1983, expressed distress that 
certain U.S. publications had called him a liar. "What is my guilt?" he 
asked. "You told me: 'Speak up!' and I began to speak."" 

Two weeks later Agca's credibility again suffered damage when, in a 
taped television interview with a reporter from the Italian state-run net- 
work RAI, he still maintained that he had been trained by Bulgarian 
agents in Syria, but now denied that he had acted on anyone else's be- 
half in his attempt on the Pope." 

A final topic that made its appearance in the immediate pre-trial 
period soon came to have a substantial impact on the trial itself. On 
March 20, 1985, the business section of the New York Times carried an 
article on the interwoven scandals of Francesco Pazienza, an Italian 
former secret services employee and all-around "fixer" who had been 
jailed in New York City in connection with the collapse of the Banco 
Ambrosiano. 64 The article, the first to bring Pazienza to the notice of 
Times readers, noted toward the end that an Italian Parliamentary Com- 
mission had named Pazienza as the moving force behind "Super S" (a 
secret clique within Italian intelligence); that he had been a liaison be- 
tween Super S and the Mafia; that he had "attempted to serve as a link 
between Italian officials and the incoming Reagan administration after 
the election of 1980"; and that his counterpart in this diplomatic work 
was none other than Michael Ledeen, a junior partner among the disin- 

62. " 1983 Agca Letter Faulted U.S.," New York Times. January 19, 1985 The letter 
also claimed that a former Soviet diplomat in Iran could provide testimony that Andropov 
had conspired to kill both the Pope and Lech Walesa: and that, as "the U S foreign policy 
is in a state of irresoluteness and bankruptcy , to overcome the Soviet threat it should 
be said to the public that Andropov bears the responsibility for the assassination attempt 
against the Pope and the Kremlin should be made to change its leader." Agca's letter was 
published in the Italian newspaper Re pubblica on January 18, 198S. The Times failed to 
note that Agca's claim to have had contact with a Soviet diplomat in Iran had been "re- 
tracted" in January 1984 See Sari Gilbert, "Agca Letter to Envoy Published in Rome," 
Washington Post, January 19, 1985. 

63. "Agca Recalls Prison Visit by Pope," New York Times, February 5, 1985, and 
ABC Evening News, February 4. 1985. In NBC's Evening News on the same date, Mar- 
vin Kalb reported only Agca's claims that he had been trained to destabilize Turkish de- 
mocracy and was then sent on a mission to kill the Pope. 

64 E. J. Dionne, Jr . "New Hope for Clues in Italian Scandals," New York Times. 
March 25, 1985. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



39 



formationists seeking to link the Bulgarians and Soviets to the attempt 
on the Pope. We will return to Pazienza at length in another context;" 
here we note that readers of the Times's business section were given a 
short (and extremely inadequate) preview of the role this major figure in 
modem Italian corruption would soon come to play in the trial of the 
Bulgarian Connection. 



The Second Trial 



The trial of Agca, Sergei Antonov, and their alleged co-conspirators, 
lasted the better part of a year, running from May 27, 1985, to March 
29, 1986. Led by veteran Judge Severino Santiapichi, with another 
judge and six lay jurors, and state prosecutor Antonio Marini, the court 
did not rely very heavily on the findings of Investigating Judge Mar- 
tella. It chose instead to cover the charges with a virtually fresh inquiry, 
focusing less intently on Bulgarian alibis and looking more closely at 
Agca as a witness, examining his Gray Wolves links, and even delving 
into possible abuses by the security services. Aside from the require- 
ment of Italian law that all witnesses be heard, the thoroughness of the 
trial coverage appears to have resulted from skepticism by the court 
about the quality of the investigative phase of the case, and from the 
case's political sensitivity, which demanded the appearance of com- 
prehensiveness to legitimate any outcome. 

In some respects the trial was over in the first days of Agca's tes- 
timony, which demonstrated to the court and other observers that, while 
intelligent and resourceful, Agca was subject to delusions of grandeur 
and was highly unreliable as a witness. His reiterated claims to be Jesus 
Christ and to be in possession of the secrets of Fatima took the court 
aback. But equally devastating was his continuously changing tes- 
timony and his failure to provide any evidence or basis for confirmation 
of his central claims of Bulgarian involvement. It became evident that 
Martella had distilled out one version of Agca's claims, which corre- 
sponded closely to the one put up by Claire Sterling and Marvin Kalb in 
the summer and fall of 1982, and that Martella had failed to obtain inde- 
pendent evidence for these allegations or to examine seriously their in- 
ternal inconsistencies. 

The case against the Bulgarians disintegrated further as the parade of 
Turkish Gray Wolves passed through the court. None of them admitted 

65. See Chapter 4, pp. 91-99. 



40 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



to participation in the plot or knowledge of Bulgarian involvement, al- 
though several claimed to have heard rumors of the latter. A witness 
such as Abdullah Catli, who admitted sheltering Agcaand buying a gun 
for him, had no apparent reason to deny Bulgarian participation in the 
plot if it had been real. Yet the trial failed to uncover a single witness to 
a Bulgarian contact with Agca. The $1.3 million allegedly paid by the 
Bulgarians through Celenk to Agca and his fellow conspirators has 
never been found. 6 * The rented automobile allegedly used by the Bul- 
garians to move Agca around Rome has never been traced. And the 
photo of Antonov in the Square has been rejected by the Court as not au- 
thentic. 

While the case against the Bulgarians fell apart in the Rome trial, the 
Gray Wolves connection was confirmed and strengthened. The trial evi- 
dence showed that Agca traveled within the Gray Wolves network all 
through Western Europe, up to the time of his coming to Rome. Some 
of his Gray Wolves comrades admitted to knowing what he was up to in 
the spring of 1981, although they all denied participating in the Plot. 67 
However, he got money from the network, its members supplied him 
with the gun, and he had meetings and contacts with them even in the 
last, Italian phase of his travels. It has not been proved that any of his 
Gray Wolves comrades were with Agca in Rome on May 13, 198 1 , but 
we strongly suspect that one or more of them were present. Whatever 
the truth of the Gray Wolves' assassination-day presence and support, 
the trial left Agca within a Gray Wolves, not a Bulgarian, network and 
support system. The first conspiracy was clearly a Gray Wolves con- 
spiracy. 

The trial also strengthened the case for a "second conspiracy" and 
the coaching hypothesis. In the investigative phase of the case, con- 
ducted by Judge Martella, the lid had been kept tight on the role of the 
secret services, the conditions of Agca's imprisonment, and the evi- 
dence for inducements and pressures. That lid was partially removed 
during the trial. Sometimes this was inadvertent, as in Abdullah Catli's 

66. In the middle of the trial Celenk was released by Bulgaria and allowed to return to 
Turkey, where he was arrested, interrogated, and held for various crimes. Celenk died 
shortly thereafter, while incarcerated. It is an interesting fact that while the Bulgarians 
were willing to free Celenk. the Turkish government would not permit him to go to Rome 
to testify on the Bulgarian Connection despite urgent requests from the Italian court. 

67 . On September 20, 1 985 , Yalcin Ozbey , when askedwhetherAgcahadi nvited him 
to participate in the assassination attempt, refused to answer the question on the ground of 
possible self-incrimination. 



TWO: EVOLUTION OF THE CONNECTION 



41 



and Yalcin Ozbey's revelation that the West German police had tried to 
bribe Celik and Ozbey to confirm Agca's claims. Sometimes it was 
more direct, such as Giovanni Pandico's detailed description of the cir- 
cumstances by which Agca's confession was coerced and guided by the 
Mafia and secret services. 68 The great publicity given in Italy to 
Pazienza's and SISMI's abuses of power forced a closer look at the sec- 
ret services role and led to new claims supporting the coaching 
hypothesis. None of this evidence was conclusive, but as we will see in 
Chapter 5, it had cumulative power vastly greater than Agca's implausi- 
ble claims. 

Before looking in more detail at the evidence showing the Bulgarian 
Connection to be a fake, however, we will examine the Turkish back- 
ground of the "first conspiracy," and then look at the Italian context 
within which the second conspiracy could be forged. 



68. See Chapter 5, pp. 102-12 



3. Hie First Conspiracy: 
Agca and the Gray Wolves 



While it is possible that the Pope's would-be assassin was manipu- 
lated by some outside party, in our view Agca's motivation must 
be sought in his Turkish roots. In this chapter we will show that Agca 
was firmly based in Turkey's neofascist Right, and that he had long 
been active in the terrorist group called the Gray Wolves. These roots 
are quickly passed over by the "terrorism experts" who, claiming to see 
no reason why a Turk would want to kill the Pope, cast their gaze to the 
East to find the motivation for such a conspiracy. Yet an elementary ac- 
quaintance with the history and ideology of the Gray Wolves quickly re- 
veals a world view which adequately supports — if it does not "ration- 
ally" explain — an attempt on the Pope's life. Just after the attempted as- 
sassination, for example, Agca's younger brother Adnan told a reporter 
from Newsweek that Agca wanted to kill the Pope "because of his con- 
viction that the Christians have imperialist designs against the Muslim 
world and are doing injustices to the Islamic countries. '" Such a view, 
as we shall see, was in accord with the mainstream of Turkish rightwing 
thought; and Agca's attempt to assassinate the Pope was but an extreme 
instance of the campaign of terror used by the Turkish Right against its 
enemies. 



The Roots of Turkish Fascism 



The chief vehicle for the rise of a neofascist Right in Turkey in the 
1960s and 1970s was the Nationalist Action Party (NAP). The NAP was 

I "The Man Wieh The Gun," Newsweek. May 25. 1981. p 36. 



42 



THREE: AOCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



43 



formed in 1965, when Col. Alparslan Tiirkes and some other former 
army officers took over the Republican Peasants' Nation Party (RPNP), 
a largely moribund party of the traditional Right. Tiirkes was a charis- 
matic former army officer who first came to national prominence in 
1944 when he, along with some 30 others, was arrested for participation 
in an anticommunist demonstration, a first indication that the govern- 
ment of Turkey was about to drop its tacit alliance with Hitler and join 
the allies. Tiirkes again achieved prominence when he and other ex- 
treme rightwing military officers were exiled from Turkey following the 
1960 military coup that eventually established Turkey's modem con- 
stitutional structure. The return of Tiirkes, and the other officers who 
had been exiled, in 1963, and Tiirkes's subsequent takeover of the Re- 
publican Peasants' Nation Party, signaled a resurgence of the Turkish 
Right; and the swift exit of the RPNP's traditional leadership left Tiirkes 
and his associates in undisputed control of the small party. 1 

The Pan-Turkism movement, to which Tiirkes and his colleagues 
were the heirs, had its roots in the late nineteenth century. At first the 
Pan-Turks had hoped to reunite all Turkic peoples in a single nation 
stretching from western China to parts of Spain. 3 As the map in Illustra- 
tion 3 . 1 shows, Turkish nationalists considered the Turkish people a na- 
tion divided, separated by boundaries which ignored Turkic cultural and 
linguistic unity. While the pre-World War I Ottoman Empire included 
most of the Turkish people, many Turks were left out, and the Empire 
also included other nationalities and ethnic groups which were not Tur- 
kish. Thus Pan-Turkism developed in opposition to the Ottoman Em- 
pire; it sought, as did many nationalist movements of that era in south- 
eastern Europe, an international realignment which would regroup their 
suppressed peoples into a single, homogeneous nation. 

The breakup of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, 
however, hardly satisfied these aspirations. The new nation of Turkey 
which emerged from the war and the Kemalist revolution was much re- 
duced in scope and left the majority of the Turkic peoples outside of its 
boundaries. Moreover, rather than causing the breakup of the Russian 
Empire, the World War and the Russian Revolution reconfirmed 

2. Jacob M. Landau, Radical Politics in Turkey (Leiden: Brill. 1974), pp. 193-217;and 
Charles Patmore, "Tiirkes: The Right's Chosen Leader," New Statesman, April 6, 1979, 
p. 478. 

3 By "Turkic peoples" we followthe broad definition outlined by Charles W. Hostler 
in his Turkism and the Soviets: The Turks of the World and Their Political Objectives 
(New York: Praeger, 1957), pp. 4-83. 



44 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



HER IRKIN DSTDNOE TURK IRKII 



BOZKURT 




■ ATI riHHUJ KUD 

11 1M1 10 



Illustration 3.1: Cover of Bozkurt showing extent of spread of Tur- 
kish people beyond the boundaries of Turkey. 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



45 



the subjugation of the predominantly Turkish regions of Tsarist Russia, 
cementing them to the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and 
frustrating the hopes of Pan-Turks that these areas could be detached 
from the Soviet Union and aligned with an enlarged Turkish nation. Fi- 
nally, the relatively cordial relations achieved by the new Soviet and 
Turkish revolutionary regimes in the 1920s resulted in the suppression 
of Pan-Turkish organizations and ideas within Turkey, while the en- 
thusiastic nation-building projects of the Kemalist state served to deflect 
potential recruits to Pan-Turkism into the Turkish political mainstream. 

There were several consequences of this realignment of national 
boundaries and political forces. First, Pan-Turkism henceforth f ocused 
even more sharply on the plight of the "Outer Turks," those peoples 
who spoke one of the Turkic languages or who shared the Turkish cul- 
ture and were outside Turkey's new national boundaries. They were 
consistently numbered by Pan-Turkish writers at more than 50 percent 
of all Turkish peoples, and an exceedingly high priority was placed on 
Turkish reunification. Moreover, the most important or politically sen- 
sitive areas in which they were found were in Cyprus (the birthplace of 
Tiirkes) and in the Soviet Union. The Pan-Turkism movement referred 
to these latter peoples as "Captive Turks," and for both ideological as 
well as revanchist reasons the Pan-Turkism movement became strongly 
anticommunist and anti-Soviet between the World Wars. In fact, Pan- 
Turkism became increasingly aligned with the international fascist 
movement, and became subtly transformed. Where it had once based its 
definition of "Turkism" on a common language and culture shared by 
different peoples throughout what its more misty-eyed advocates called 
"Greater Turan," 4 under the influence of the fascist movements of the 
1930s it increasingly emphasized the common racial ties of the Turkish 
peoples and preached a doctrine of Turkish racial superiority akin to the 
Nazis' doctrine of Aryan supremacy. 

Thus it was not surprising that the German invasion of the Soviet 
Union in 1941 was greeted with enthusiasm by Pan-Turkish organiza- 
tions. Not only did it strike a blow at the ideological enemy; more im- 

4. According to Jacob Landau , Pan-Turanism ' "has as ils chief objective rapprochement 
and ultimately union among all people whose origins are purported to extend back to 
Turan. an undef ined Shangri-La-like area in the steppes of Central Asia. . . Turanism is 
consequently a far broader concept than Pan-Turkism, embracing such peoples as the 
Hungarians, Finns, and Estonians." The term came to be adopted by many Pan-Turkists, 
who used it to mean Turkish Homeland in a very broad sense Pan-Turkism in Turkey A 
Study of Irredentism (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books. 1981), p. I 



46 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



portantly, it promised an opportunity to dissolve the Soviet Empire and 
to unite with the Turkish motherland the Turkish peoples "held cap- 
tive" within the Soviet Union. These hopes were also recognized by the 
Nazis. As German armies advanced into the Soviet Union, Germany's 
ambassador to Turkey, Franz von Papen, cabled a secret report to the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs outlining the possibilities for enlisting the 
"Pan-Turanism Movement" against the Soviet Union. "Germany," 
concluded von Papen, s 

is called upon to pay special attention to the drawing of details for the formation 
of a strong state organization in the southeast with the aim of keeping the 
Soviets constantly apprehensive of this state. This task cannot be fulfilled in a 
satisfactory manner by the Ukraine; its people are Slavs, and they could easily 
come to believe at any time . . . that their common concord lies with the 
U.S. S R. As far as the Turks are concerned, this possibility is wholly excluded. 

As for the Turks, many responded eagerly to German overtures and 
the possibilities created by the apparently impending defeat of the 
Soviet Union. One area expert notes that "the Pan-Turkist irredentists 
regarded as inevitable the defeat of the U.S.S.R. and considered possi- 
ble the creation of a confederation of all the Turkish peoples of Soviet 
Russia and Chinese Turkestan under the Turkish Republic's leader- 
ship." In the autumn of 1942, anticipating the fall of Stalingrad, the 
Turkish Republic concentrated troops at the Caucasian border, "ready 
to exploit all the possibilities the German-Soviet war and a collapse of 
the U.S.S.R. could furnish for the realization of Pan-Turkish ideals." 6 

Beginning in late 1941, more than a hundred thousand Soviet Turks 
were recruited out of prisoner-of-war camps by the Nazis and enrolled 
into army units that fought alongside the Germans. In 1944 the Turke- 
stan National Committee initiated the formation of the East Turkish 
Waff en Verband, an SS unit, which consisted of four regiments of 
Turks from the Soviet Union. But by this time the cause of Germany, 
and thus of the Pan-Turks, was all but lost; and with the defeat of Ger- 
many in 1945 most Turkish people were still outside Turkey proper. 
Pan-Turkish organizations and publications continued to be dominated 
by a strongly anticommunist, and especially anti-Soviet, ideology; and 
while they were later to resume their alignment with international fas- 

5. Cited in Hostler, op cil., p. 174 

6. Ibid., pp. 176-77 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



47 



cism, they also became aligned with the U.S. -led anti-Soviet camp in 
the emerging Cold War. 1 

This was the inheritance that Tiirkes and his colleagues brought to the 
NAP in the mid-1960s. The party's structure served in turn as a vehicle 
to disseminate a Pan-Turkish world view, and it soon emerged as a force 
to be reckoned with in modem Turkish politics. The political program 
of the NAP was set almost exclusively by Tiirkes himself, whose writ- 
ings and speeches combined a vision of a science-based, state-planned 
economy which would modernize Turkey with an archaic world view 
that was rooted in the legends of the gray wolf who led the Turkic 
peoples out of Asia to their homeland in Anatolia. 

As with European fascism, Tiirkes's unwieldy ideological amalgam 
sought to appeal to the "little man" allegedly crushed between 
capitalist monopolies and a growing labor movement. It is important to 
understand this, if only because western terrorism "experts" have ex- 
pressed skepticism that Agca could both be a rightist and make anti- 
capitalist statements, as he has done. A good example of the NAP's at- 
titude toward capitalism can be found in this passage from one of its 
journals: 8 

Finance capital is by its nature and purpose not national. Banks, insurance com- 
panies, and Financial trusts that are attached to it are the mortal enemies of the 
national economy. . . . Finance capital is concerned with weakening and de- 
stroying the national economy in all its aspects by robbing the banks, manipulat- 
ing the stock exchange, and by various other swindles. . . . There is also a class 
of compradors which participates in these activities of this anti-national capital, 
reaping large profits and sharing in the crime. They are virtually traitors. Thus 
the struggle between the national and the anti-national economy is one between 
international capital and its accomplices against the nation. 

Yet, continuing the parallel with National Socialism, none of this 
"little man" propaganda prevented the NAP from enlisting the support 
of wealthy businessmen. According to the prosecutor's indictment of 
the NAP in the spring of 1981 , following the crackdown on the party in 
the wake of the military coup the previous fall, records seized at party 

7. Ibid., pp. 55, 179; and Jacob Landau, op. cil., n. 4, Chapters 3 and 4. 
8 Yeniden Milli Miicadele, 54 (February 9, 197 1 ), cited in Feroz Ahmad, The Turkish 
Experiment in Democracy: 1950-1975 (London: C. Hurst & Co , 1977), pp 263-64 



48 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



headquarters showed that the NAP received funds from the Chairman of 
the Executive Committee of the Secretariat of Turkish Businessmen, the 
President of the Istanbul Chamber of Industrialists, the Chairman of the 
Union of Chambers, the President of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry, 
the President of the Executive Committee of the Istanbul Bank, and 
many others.* 

Turkes's brand of Pan-Turkism was also addressed to ultra-patriots 
who believed that their nation was being humiliated by its weakness in 
relation to the Soviet Union and the capitalist powers of the West, par- 
ticularly the United States. This point is also overlooked by those prop- 
agators of the Bulgarian Connection who profess to be mystified by 
Agca's various pronouncements against "imperialism." Perhaps the 
most important such instance was his handwritten message, allegedly 
found among his possessions upon his arrest in Rome, declaring that his 
assassination attempt was a protest against both the Soviet invasion of 
Afghanistan and the U.S. -supported counterinsurgency in El Salvador. 
Yet Pan-Turkish propaganda is rich in such denunciations. 

As is readily apparent, the Pan-Turkish social and political milieu 
into which the young Mehmet Ali Agca was absorbed in the 1970s had 
a well-developed, distinctive fascist ideology. While still in high 
school, Agca became involved with the NAP's youth affiliate, the Gray 
Wolves. The Wolves were so-named not only to enhance their ferocious 
image, but also to emphasize the atavistic part of the NAP's heritage; 
and it is said that the young recruits would howl when assembled to- 
gether. In the late 1960s the NAP had established dozens of training 
camps for young people throughout Turkey, and had built the move- 
ment's strength largely on the basis of its youth organizations. 10 The 
military coup of March 12, 1971 , gave the NAP its chance: as the mili- 
tary government turned against the Left, the Gray Wolves became a 
dominant force in many schools and the universities. 

The NAP also prospered on the national political scene. A parliamen- 
tary crisis in late 1974 left the small rightwing parties, including the 
NAP, holding the balance of power in parliament. Demirel, the leader 
of the conservative Justice Party, moved to form a "National Front" 
government which would combine the forces on the right under his 

9. Searchlight (Greal Britain), No. 75 (September 1981), p. 13. 

10 A secret report, prepared by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior in 1970 but sup- 
pressed by Prime Minister Demirel of the Justice Party, listed 26 such camps allegedly or- 
ganized between August 1968 and July 1970. The report was made public during the 
height of NAP activity in November 1978. Searchlight, No 47 (May 1979), pp 5-6 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



49 



leadership. According to a leading historian of modem Turkey:" 

Newspapers which supported the Front parties popularized the slogan "Demirel 
in Parliament, Tiirkes in the street. ..." As a manifestation of this "division 
of labor," by the beginning of 1975 rightwing violence in the street carried out 
by Action Party "commandos" had become almost a daily occurrence. The aim 
of this violence was to emphasize the so-called danger from the Left, and it gave 
the Nationalist Action Party an opportunity to exert a political influence totally 
out of proportion to its following in the country and its strength in the Assem- 
bly. 

Two of the NAP's three parliamentary representatives were given 
cabinet posts in the National Front government: Tiirkes was made Depu- 
ty Prime Minister, while a second NAP deputy was made Minister of 
Customs and State Monopolies. 12 By 1977 the party was strong enough 
to win seven percent of the vote in the general elections, giving them 16 
Members of Parliament. Skillfully using its parliamentary faction and 
its forces in the streets, the NAP gained control of the Ministry of Edu- 
cation, which in turn assisted the Gray Wolves terrorists who beat and 
murdered their opponents to gain hegemony in many schools." And the 

I I. Feroz Ahmad, op. cil., n. 8, p. 347. 

1 2 . A physical attack on Demirel occurred shortly after the formation of the Front. At 
the trial, his assailant was shown to have been associated with the NAP. If Demirel had 
been killed, Tiirkes would have assumed the post of Prime Minister. According to Feroz 
Ahmad, ' 'There was much speculation as to what might have happened if Demirel had 
been killed. Some though! that the government, led by Tiirkes (a man with fascist lean- 
ings), might have declared a state of emergency . . . and established an openly f ascist re- 
gime. . . This conspiracy theory was made more plausible because Tiirkes was said to 
have a large following among junior officers in the armed forces, who were willing to sup- 
port such a regime. During the summer of 1975, the author heard both stones constantly 
while in Turkey" (ibid. , pp. 351 , 361 ). Ahmad also notes that "Tiirkes wanted to have 
martial law proclaimed" (p. 362). and nearly succeeded in doing so in June 1975. Just be- 
fore a visit by Tiirkes to the city of Diyarbekir, a stronghold of Shia and Kurds who were 
strongly opposed to Tiirkes and the NAP's Sunni and Turkish chauvinism, NAP comman- 
dos "came to Diyarbekir 'like an occupation force,' . . . and shouted slogans in the 
streets: 'Flee, the Turks are coming. ' ' ' Ahmad reports that, in response to these provoca- 
tions, there was a demonstration against Tiirkes "which became violent and almost led to 
the proclamation of martial law" (p. 362). 

13. Sterling, Henze, and NBC-TV have dwelt on the fact that Agca mysteriously 
passed an entrance examination allowing him to enter Istanbul University They hint that 
this is evidence that Agca was aided by some sinister (i.e. , Red) power They never ac- 
knowledge the special position which the extreme Right had obtained in the educational 
field, which provided an institutional basis for easing favored candidates through the edu- 
cational system in the late 1970s 



50 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



NAP used its control of the Customs Ministry to turn the endemic 
smuggling from Turkey to Europe to its own profit. Finally, the NAP 
deployed its small but politically crucial weight in the parliamentary 
balance of power to prevent the government from cracking down on the 
party's terrorist "commandos," the Gray Wolves. 

At the time of the military coup of September 1980, there were some 
1,700 Gray Wolves organizations in Turkey with approximately 
200,000 registered members and about a million sympathizers. Im- 
mediately following the coup, the NAP was outlawed and Tiirkes was 
arrested.' 4 In its indictment of the NAP, which was handed down in 
May 1981 , the Turkish military government charged 220 members of 
the party and its affiliates with the responsibility for 694 murders. This 
was only a fraction of the killing attributed to the Turkish Right. Statis- 
tics for 1978, for example, recorded 3,319 fascist attacks, which re- 
sulted in 831 killed and 3,121 wounded." Contrary to the impression 
advanced by Claire Sterling in The Terror Network, the overwhelming 
bulk of political and sectarian violence in the pre-martial law period was 
initiated by the Gray Wolves, who were protected by their friends in the 
military, police force, and government. 



Agca As Terrorist: The Gray Wolves Connection 



Although Agca's immersion in the world of the Gray Wolves has 
been inconvenient for supporters of the Bulgarian Connection 
hypothesis, the evidence connecting Agca to Turkey's neofascist Right 
is overwhelming. What is more, these connections never tapered off and 
may be traced right up to Agca's sojourn in Rome." Where Sterling, 

14. Diana Johnstone has suggested that the assassination attempt on the Pope might 
have been motivated in part by the NAP-Gray Wolves resentment at their betrayal by 
NATO and the West. Tor whom they had served as a destabilizing force, but who had then 
allowed them to be swept up along with the Left in the aftermath of the Turkish military 
coup. "Assassins: Goal of Turkish Terror is Confusion," In These Times, June 3-16, 
1981. 

15. Searchlight (Great Britain), No 47 (May 1979), p. 6. 

16. The trial provided solid proof of the Gray Wolves connection up to Agca's stay in 
Rome. It failed to clarify the question of which, if any. Gray Wolves were with him on 
May 13, 198 1 . The last authenticated contact was on May 9, when Omer Bagci delivered 
a gun to Agca in Milan. We believe that one or more Gray Wolves accompanied Agca at 
the assassination attempt, but hard evidence is lacking. 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



51 



Henze, and Investigating Magistrate Martella saw Agca's relationship 
with the Gray Wolves as either bogus or ephemeral , the evidence points 
to a durable connection, providing organization, personnel, funding, 
and an ideological basis for the assassination conspiracy. 

Agca's association with the Gray Wolves began when he was in high 
school. According to Rasit Kisacik, a Turkish journalist who has 
studied Agca's early years, he was often seen with Gray Wolves leaders 
while in high school; and when the police raided Agca's home in 1 979, 
they found photographs showing the young Agca in the company of 
leaders of the Gray Wolves. 17 Moreover, the people Agca came to know 
among his hometown Gray Wolves activists aided him in many of his 
later terrorist activities. While in theory the Gray Wolves were directed 
by the NAP, in fact, according to Michael Dobbs of the Washington 
Post, "the command structure seems to have been a loose one, allowing 
plenty of room for semiautonomous factions and groups that did not 
necessarily take their orders from the top."" 1 The loose network of Gray 
Wolves from Agca's home base, the Malatya region of eastern Turkey, 
seems to have functioned as one such semiautonomous group. Led by 
Oral Celik — apparently involved in the murder of Turkey's most promi- 
nent newspaper editor, Abdi Ipekci, and in the operation that broke 
Agca out of prison in 1 979, and identified by Agca as the second gun- 
man in the attack on the Pope" — the Malatya gang supported itself by 
smuggling and robbery. We find them present at each of the milestones 
on Agca's path from high school to St. Peter's Square. 

In 1978 Agca enrolled in Istanbul University. He apparently spent lit- 
tle time in classes. Instead he hung out in right wing cafes like the Mar- 
mora, which "advertised the politics of those who frequented it with a 
large mural of a gray wolf on one of the walls." 20 According to Feroz 
Ahmad, "students in the hostel where he lived remembered him as a 
well-known 'militant' who was allegedly seen shooting two students in 
the legs during an attack on a leftist hostel. His notoriety in terrorist cir- 

17. Marvine Howe, "Turk's Hometown Puzzled by His Climb to Notoriety," New 
York Times. May 23, 1981. 

18. Michael Dobbs, "Child of Turkish Slums Finds Way in Crime," Washington Post, 
October 14, 1984. 

1 9 . This identification was supported by Ozbey during the trial, but was denied by other 
Gray Wolves. Celik was a good friend of Agca, and Agca's motive in falsely implicating 
Celik is not clear. 

20. R. W. Apple. Jr., "Trail of Mehmet Ali Agca: 6 Years of Neofascist Ties," New 
York Times, May 25, 1981. 



52 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



cles was such that leftists tried to kill him on a number of occasions. " Zl 
On February 1, 1979, the Malatya gang assassinated Ipekci. Agca 
was arrested a few months later; and, although there now seems to be 
serious doubt whether Agca was indeed the gunman or just an accom- 
plice, he quickly confessed to the crime. At his trial the following Oc- 
tober Agca steadfastly denied any connection with the NAP or the Gray 
Wolves, claiming instead to "represent a new form of terror on my 
own." After several sessions of his trial, Agca threatened in court to 
name "the truly responsible parties" when the trial next convened. This 
clear signal that someone had better get him out was delivered within 
days after the formation of a new, conservative government, dependent 
on NAP votes for its parliamentary majority; and a few days later some 
Gray Wolves led by Oral Celik smuggled Agca, disguised as a soldier, 
through eight checkpoints and out of prison. 

Agca's first act upon escaping from prison was to send a letter to Mil- 
liyet, Ipekci 's newspaper, threatening to kill the Pope, who was about to 
visit Turkey. Once again we stumble on an event which presents incon- 
venient facts for Sterling and company, for on its face Agca's act sup- 
ports the probability that he (and the Malatya gang) needed no KGB 
hand to guide them toward a papal assassination. In his letter to Milliyet 
Agca stated: 22 

Fearing the creation of a new political and military power in the Middle East by 
Turkey along with its brother Arab states, western imperialism has . . . dis- 
patched to Turkey in the guise of religious leader the crusade commander John 
Paul. Unless this untimely and meaningless visit is postponed, I shall certainly 
shoot the Pope. 

Was this letter written at the direction of Agca's KGB controller, as 
Sterling and Henze maintain, as a devilishly clever cover for Agca's 
KGB links? Was it written, as Agca himself later maintained, as a diver- 
sion to throw his pursuers off the scent? While we cannot say with cer- 
tainty, the fact that the contents of the letter accord perfectly with the 
ideological views of the Gray Wolves and the NAP strongly suggests 
that the letter simply speaks for itself; 23 and while Agca and the Malatya 

21. Feroz Ahmad, "Agca: The Making of A Terrorist," Boston Globe, June 7, 1981. 

22 Sinan Fisek, "Attacker Named As Escaped Assassin," London Times, May 14, 
1981 . A slightly different translation may be found in Claire Sterling. The Time of the As- 
sassins (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983), p. 19 

23 For evidence of NAP press hostility to the Pope's visit in 1979, see Chapter 6, p 
156, n 90 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



53 



gang failed to carry out their threat to kill the heavily guarded Pope dur- 
ing his visit to Turkey, such an act was on their agenda. 

At this point Agca's life as a fugitive began. Wanted by Turkish au- 
thorities and Interpol, Agca nevertheless moved with apparent ease 
through some dozen countries in the 1 8 months separating his prison es- 
cape from his rendezvous with the Pope in May 1981 . Throughout this 
time Agca was rarely outside the Gray Wolves network and was fre- 
quently in contact with the Malatya gang. After murdering the informer 
who had earlier tipped off the police to his whereabouts, Agca was 
taken by the Gray Wolves to Iran to hide out. Some months later he re- 
turned to Turkey and, aided by a false passport provided him by Gray 
Wolves members, he was smuggled into Bulgaria and through that 
country, arriving in Western Europe in the fall of 1980. Agca thus nar- 
rowly escaped the military coup which forced many Gray Wolves un- 
derground or into exile abroad. The Malatya gang soon followed Agca 
to Western Europe, where they sought shelter among the Gray Wolves 
network in the large Turkish immigrant communities of Switzerland and 
West Germany. 

In fleeing from Turkey Agca was not abandoning the Gray Wolves 
network so much as seeking the shelter of its exterior branches. The 
NAP and the Gray Wolves had recruited for many years among the mil- 
lions of Turkish men who left their country to work in Switzerland, 
West Germany, or other European countries for one or more years be- 
fore returning home." When a 1976 Turkish court decision made it il- 
legal for the Gray Wolves and the NAP to maintain foreign affiliates, 
the Western European branches were reorganized into the Federation of 
Turkish Idealist Associations or into Turkish "cultural" clubs, but they 
secretly maintained their ties to the NAP. The Federation claimed 
50,000 members in Europe at the time of the military coup in September 
1980, with 129 chapters, including 87 in West Germany. The West Ger- 
man police estimated that at least 26,000 Turkish workers in West Ger- 
many were members of neofascist organizations. 25 

24. For a vivid account of this great migration. s»e John Berger and Jean Mohr. A 
Seventh Man (London: Penguin Books, 1975) 

25 Another report estimated that there were 200 conservative Islamic centers in West 
Germany; and the New York Times cited "recent documentation by West Germany's labor 
federation [which) pointed out strong anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian cur- 
rents in the Islamic centers' publications" (John Tagliabue. "Militant Views Among 
Turks Trouble Bonn," May 21 . 1981) The de facto political alliances between the NAP 
and Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey were probably operative in Western Europe as 
well 



54 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



This network of rightwing Turkish organizations sheltered Agca be- 
tween the time he left Turkey and the day he shot the Pope. Simply to 
list the confirmed links which have emerged at Agca's trial in Rome and 
in collateral trials in other Gray Wolves centers in Western Europe rein- 
forces this conclusion: 

1 . Agca came to Western Europe with a passport provided by Gray 
Wolves leader Abdullah Catli. Catli had obtained the passport with the 
help of a customs official who was a member of the Gray Wolves. 

2. Agca was sheltered by Catli and other Gray Wolves in Olten, Swit- 
zerland, a major Gray Wolves smuggling center. 26 One of Agca's com- 
panions in Olten, Mehmet Sener, was sentenced in Switzerland to a 
five-year prison term for drug smuggling. Catli and Oral Celik were 
wanted for questioning at Sener's trial. 

3. Yalcin Ozbey, who was brought in to testify in Rome, was jailed in 
Bochum, West Germany on drug smuggling charges. Before the murder 
of Ipekci in 1 979, Ozbey and Agca had a joint bank account. Another 
Gray Wolves friend of Agca, Rifat Yildirim, was caught with heroin in 
Frankfurt. 

4. MusaCelebi, one of the top leaders of the Gray Wolves in Western 
Europe, had numerous contacts with Agca in 1980 and 1981, giving 
him money and meeting with him in Zurich only six weeks before the 
assassination attempt. 

5. Agca's gun was purchased for him by Catli, and was delivered to 
him in Milan only four days before the assassination attempt by the 
Olten Gray Wolves leader Omer Bagci and two other Gray Wolves. 

6. At the time of the Pope's visit to the Netherlands in May 1985, 
another Gray Wolves member, Arslan Samet, was arrested at the Dutch 
border while carrying a Browning revolver stolen at the same time as the 
one used by Agca in St. Peter's Square. 

7 . Numerous phone calls between Agca and Gray Wolves leaders in 
West Germany and Switzerland were intercepted by the police in the 
months before the assassination attempt. 

In short, the available evidence shows that Agca was a Gray Wolves 

26 For the Gray Wolves in Switzerland, see "Tiirkische Mafia Und Die Grauen Wolfe 
in Der Schweiz," Informationstelle 7"«>*ei (Postfach 2151, 4001 Basel, 1985). This use- 
ful volume includes analyses and excerpts from Turkish and Swiss newspapers on the 
criminal activities of many of the Gray Wolves mentioned above. Much useful informa- 
tion also emerged during the 1985 sessions of the trial, as Ozbey, Catli, and other Gray 
Wolves were called by Judge Santiapichi and testified about Agca's connections to the 
Gray Wolves in Switzerland. 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 55 

militant, and up to May 13, 1981, all his contacts led straight to the 
Gray Wolves. 



Agca As An "International Terrorist" 



Sterling, Henze, and some members of the Italian judiciary 27 have por- 
trayed Agca as a "pure" or "international" terrorist, who rises above 
mere political loyalties and dedicates his life to random political vio- 
lence. We may usefully pause to examine the "proofs" that Agca was 
an apolitical international terrorist, for the fallacies they embody are not 
only relevant to evaluating the Gray Wolves linkage, they also illumi- 
nate the quality of the Sterling-Henze-Kalb evidence for the Bulgarian 
Connection. 

Agca' s Gray Wolves affiliation as ' 'cover. ' ' The Sterling-Henze school 
has suggested that the Soviets and the Bulgarians recruited Agca early 
and had him serve in the Gray Wolves as a "cover." Thus his threat to 
kill the Pope in 1 979 was an attempt to provide a later basis for the claim 
that he was a Turkish fascist, when in fact he was already under KGB 
discipline. 

One problem with this line of argument is the absence of the faintest 
trace of supporting evidence. Another is that many of Agca's Gray 
Wolves comrades would have had to be similarly manipulated. A third 
problem is that the alleged Soviet motive to kill the Pope — the threat of 
Poland's Solidarity — did not exist in earlier years, nor at the time when 
Agca made the threat in 1979. A further problem is that the assassina- 
tion threat can be explained on grounds of Gray Wolves-NAP ideology 
without resort to hypothetical scenarios. Anything can be proved by this 
form of pseudoscientific reasoning. 

Agca was not a card-carrying member of the Gray Wolves. Sterling and 
Henze claim that Agca never obtained an official Gray Wolves member- 
ship card. It may be noted that this line of proof is diametrically opposed 
to that made in the previous point. If Agca were a KGB recruit and they 
wanted to tar him with the brush of Turkish fascism to cover up a later 
terrorist act, the KGB would have made sure that Agca did the neces- 
sary paperwork. Indeed, the absence of a membership card undermines 



27 See Chapter 5, pp. 113-15. 



56 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the argument that Agca was controlled by the KGB while a Gray 
Wolves activist. Apart from this contradiction, however, the record of 
durable linkages and a longstanding political commitment must be per- 
suasive to nonpseudoscientists, barring credible alternative evidence. 

The motive behind Agca's confessions. Apart from their unwillingness 
to give proper weight to Agca's Gray Wolves connections, Sterling and 
company ignore three motivations for Agca's confessions implicating 
the Bulgarians that render them worthless as evidence: 

Loyalty: By claiming he was an "international terrorist," Agca took 
the blame and kept the heat off his Gray Wolves comrades for many 
months. He had done the same thing in Turkey by "confessing" to the 
Ipekci murder in 1979. In the case of the Bulgarian Connection, Agca 
should certainly have little objection to channeling ultimate guilt from 
his best friends to the Communists, a longstanding Gray Wolves foe. 28 

Self-Preservation: By accommodating his captors he made life much 
easier for himself. We describe later the probable "deal" struck, and 
the inducements and threats that made it worth his while to finger the 
Evil Empire. 

Publicity: Agca had long sought fame and recognition. According to 
Turkish journalist Ismail Kovaci, ' 'Agca suffers both from jealousy and 
delusions of self-grandeur. For him, terrorism represented his way of 
leaving his mark on the world.'" 9 Michael Dobbs of the Washington 
Post states: 30 

Many who encountered Agca both in Turkey and in Italy, have spoken of his 
"Carlos Complex" — his image of himself as a top-flight intematfbnal terrorist 
with the whole world hanging breathlessly on.his every word. His desire for per- 
sonal publicity seems unquenchable. At one point in the Italian investigation, he 

28. One theory of Gray Wolves involvement, expounded by Orsan Oymen, is that the 
Gray Wolves in Western Europe were not keen on the assassination attempt, which was a 
preoccupation of Agca's (held over from the Pope's visit to Turkey in 1979). Agca per- 
suaded his comrades to support him by promising that if caught he would blame the Soviet 
Bloc for the Plot, not the Gray Wolves. Agca did implicate the Bulgarians and Soviets im- 
mediately, although along with others, and eventually he came through with a full-scale 
"confession." It is interesting to note that Celebi held a press conference in Bonn on May 
21, 1 98 1 , in which he proclaimed that Agca had nothing to do with the Gray Wolves and 
that the assassination plot had been organized and sponsored by the KGB. See Orsan 
Oymen, "Behind the Scenes of the 'Agca Investigation,' " Milliyel, November 1984. 

29. Michael Dobbs, "Child of Turkish Slums . . ." Washington Post, October 14, 
1984. 

30. Ibid 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



57 



abruptly clammed up when the magistrates refused his demand that journalists 
be present as he "confessed." 

Having exhausted his ability to derive eminence from shooting the 
Pope, Agca's deal to implicate the Bulgarians opened up new avenues 
to attain star status and TV recognition. So did the trial, where he could 
reveal his special role as the Son of God. 

Agca says just what Claire Sterling says an international terrorist ought 
to say. Since deciding to cooperate with the Italian authorities, Agca has 
played the international terrorist card aggressively. Perhaps too aggres- 
sively. Although until the 1985 trial he only claimed to have had contact 
with low-level Bulgarian functionaries, he kept saying with great deci- 
siveness that the KGB was involved. He could not know this from any 
direct experience, but he learned the "model" into which his mentors 
and captors wanted him to f it, and he kept helping them out. During the 
trial, he suddenly trotted out a Sofia meeting with the Soviet Deputy 
Ambassador, to the consternation of the prosecution and a chorus of de- 
rision from the defense and the press. Agca's caricature of the Sterling 
vision of the terrorist-for-hire (by the KGB) is so close to the original 
that some of the Italian magistrates have been impressed by the excel- 
lent fit! 31 

In the real world, coached witnesses say what their coaches want 
them to say. In a world of disinformation and internalized propaganda, 
the courts and press marvel at the conformity of the "confession" to the 
forecasts of the coaches! 



The Smuggling Versus CIA Connection 



Money was the lifeblood of the NAP and the Gray Wolves networks: 
money for guns, money for bribes, and money to maintain the party's 
organizational apparatus. As one former Gray Wolves member tes- 
tified, 32 the Western European network of the Gray Wolves 

3 1 See the comments of Magistrate Rosario Priore in Chapter 4 below. 

32. Die Tageszeilung (a West Berlin daily), September 4, 1980 The witness, Ali Yur- 
turslan, was later used as a source on the NBC program , ' 'The Man Who Shot the Pope — 
A Study in Terrorism," but any information he had given NBC about Gray Wolves 
smuggling was not used. 



58 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



sends large quantities of money back to Turkey. Not only money, but weapons 
and equipment. Guns from France, West Germany, Belgium, and Bulgaria are 
smuggled by sea into Turkey. . . . One of the Nationalist Action Party's great- 
est sources of funds is drug smuggling. Heroin and hashish are smuggled out of 
Turkey and into Europe, and the NAP even markets much of the drugs in 
Europe itself. The profits go to buying guns in Turkey. 

A British survey of the NAP's participation in drug smuggling states:" 

The first indications of their involvement came in 1973 when Kudret Bayhan, a 
NAP member of the Turkish senate, was detained in France with a consignment 
of heroin. Also arrested with Bayhan were two other members of the NAP's ex- 
ecutive committee. In 1976 another NAP senator with a car [trunk] loaded with 
the drug was arrested on the border between Italy and Yugoslavia. Three years 
later Italian police at Trieste arrested nineteen Turkish right wingers transport- 
ing a total of £2 million [about $5 million] worth of heroin. Some of them ad- 
mitted to police investigators that the heroin was destined for the United States, 
where it was to be traded for arms with underworld contacts. 

While it is dangerous to place much confidence in any of Agca's decla- 
rations, Turkish military prosecutors who reopened the Ipekci murder 
case have accepted as plausible Agca's assertion that while in Istanbul 
he supported himself through a black market smuggling operation or- 
ganized by the Malatya gang. 

Although much of the smuggling to and from Turkey was carried out 
by sea, some of it also crossed the Bulgarian land bridge separating Tur- 
key from Western Europe. Given the vast flow of Turks and others 
traversing Bulgaria on their way to and from Western Europe in the 
1970s, it was virtually impossible for Bulgaria to control its borders 
against smuggling. Even with apparently serious efforts to control the 
drug trade it is a notable fact that many of the biggest complainers (e.g. , 
the United States and Italy) have been unable to curb the traffic in their 
own countries. 

Some credible Italian and Turkish investigators have claimed that 
Bulgaria tolerates and even participates in some facets of smuggling, 
such as the arms trade, in order to earn hard currency. But this alleged 
participation and acquiescence has never been proved to extend to 
drugs, and the Bulgarian government's claims of serious efforts to con- 

33. "The Heroin Trail and Gray Wolves Guns," Searchlight (Great Britain), No. 65 
(November 1980), p. 7. See also Feroz Ahmad, op. cit., n. 21 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



59 



trol that form of smuggling have been given credence by the U.S. Cus- 
toms Service (see Appendix B). 

It is dangerous to make the leap from the existence of smuggling to 
state direction and control of smuggling, and even more dangerous to 
then claim state responsibility for all the crimes of the smugglers. 
Moreover, we now know that the Turkey-Bulgaria-Italy smuggling 
route was run at least in part by officials from Italy's military intelli- 
gence agency (SISMI); 34 and in reporting on March 23, 1983, that the 
three top CIA officials in Rome were in "deep trouble," NBC News 
suggested that one source of their problems was ' 'that they might have 
been using a guns and drug smuggling route between Sofia, Bulgaria 
and Milan, Italy to run their own agents into Eastern Europe. ..." In 
short, it would appear that, as with all lucrative but illegal trades, the 
smugglers' highway between Turkey and Western Europe was lined 
with money and accommodated the intelligence agents of many nations 
as well as the smugglers themselves. 

Sterling, Henze, and Martella saw the root of the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion in the drug and arms smuggling activities of what they call the 
"Turkish Mafia." The main linkages are those between the Turkish 
Mafia and those Bulgarian state officials who tolerated, protected, and/ 
or helped organize the smuggling. In Sterling's view, Agca was a rela- 
tively low-level employee of this Mafia, and while in Bulgaria he was 
on the payroll of Abuzer Ugurlu, the "Godfather" of the Turkish 
Mafia. Ugurlu, in tum, worked with or for another Godfather, the Tur- 
kish businessman Bekir Celenk. According to Sterling and company, it 
was through Celenk and Ugurlu that the Bulgarians directed the Turkish 
smuggling operations, and through them that the smugglers received 
Bulgarian protection. And according to Agca (and then Martella), it was 
Celenk who offered to pay Agca more than a million dollars to kill the 
Pope. 

The weaknesses of this linkage of Agca and the assassination attempt 
to the Bulgarians via the smuggling connection are severe. First, once 
again much of this story rests on the credibility of Agca, the sole source 
of many crucial details. Furthermore, we know that Agca had read Ugur 
Mumcu's Arms Smuggling and Terrorism, and there is reason to believe 
that many of the details Agca gave his interrogators about such well- 

34. "La P-2, les service italiens, le trafic drogues/armes: I'attentat contre le pape et ta 
CIA," Le Monde du Renseignement, October-December 1983, pp. 43-44. 



60 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



known smugglers as Abuzer Ugurlu and Bekir Celenk were taken from 
this book." 

Second, while the smuggling trade between Turkey and Bulgaria has 
been significant, it has involved the principals in a business relationship 
with reciprocal benefits. The assumption that the Bulgarians control the 
Turkish Mafia participating in that trade is unproven and implausible.' 6 
So is the assumption that the NAP is a simple instrument of the Turkish 
Mafia. Michael Dobbs presents evidence that Ugurlu was dependent on 
the NAP for protection, rather than the other way around. Dobbs notes 
that "to carry out this large-scale smuggling operation, Ugurlu . . . 
needed agents in the Turkish customs ministry," and points out that "it 
is now known that key customs posts were infiltrated by supporters of 
the [NAP] . . . during the late 1970s. "" Particularly between 1975 and 
1978, when they participated in the National Front government, the 
NAP placed many of its supporters in key positions in the customs 
ministry and at border crossing points. Needing funds to carry out party 
activities, the NAP was in a position to deal profitably with the 
smugglers and was increasingly able to take over the business itself. Ac- 
cording to Orsan Oymen, "My opinion is that ... it was the Gray 
Wolves who were in a position to ask favors from the Mafia. They were 
the ones with the political influence at the time, because of their control 
over the customs ministry."" Finally, Ugur Mumcu, the leading au- 
thority on the Turkish-Bulgarian drug connection, does not accept the 
notion that Ugurlu, the Turkish Mafia, and the Gray Wolves were in- 
struments of Bulgarian political policy merely by virtue of their mutu- 
ally profitable business linkages. 3 ' 

A third important weakness of the smuggling-based model is its ne- 
glect of the anticommunism of the NAP and Gray Wolves and their 
links to the United States and CIA. If these are given their proper 
weight, not only is the idea that the Gray Wolves were up for hire by the 
communist powers seen as foolish, but questions are also raised about 
the possibility of a CIA root for the assassination attempt. 

35. See Chapter 2, p. 27, n.36. 

36. See Appendix B 

37 "Child of Turkish Slums," Washington Post, October 14, 1984 
38. Quoted by Michael Dobbs, ibid. 

39 Ugur Mumcu, Papa, Mafya, Agca (Istanbul: Tekin Yayinevi, 1984), pp. 198-211. 
Michael Dobbs points out that Mumcu believes that Ugurlu also worked for Turkey's in- 
telligence agency, MIT. "Agca Makes His Way From Sofia to St. Peter's," Washington 
Post, October 15, 1984 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



61 



While the Bulgarians had links to the Turkish Mafia via the smug- 
gling trade, the United States had established a far more powerful posi- 
tion in the heart of Turkish society, notably in its army and intelligence 
services. The huge Turkish loans of 1947-48 and the integration of Tur- 
key into the U.S. -dominated NATO made the U.S. -Turkish relationship 
one of patron and client by the early 1950s. 4 * Between 1950 and 1979 
the United States provided a further $5.8 billion in military aid. 41 The 
arms supply and training programs helped integrate the Turkish mili- 
tary, police, and intelligence services into those of the United States. 
Under the Military Assistance Program and the International Military 
Education and Training Program, 19,193 Turks received U.S. training 
between 1950 and 1979. U.S. trainees in client states have been instru- 
mental in leading counterrevolutionary coups that have served their pa- 
tron's interests ' 12 The patron is also often effectively an occupying 
power, organizing the military and police, manipulating the political en- 
vironment, and building its own bridges to serviceable (usually right- 
wing) groups within the state. 

The most likely avenue linking the CIA to the Turkish Right runs 
through Turkey's "Counter-Guerrilla," a branch of the Turkish General 
Staffs Department of Special Warfare, which was created sometime in 
the 1960s. One study of Turkey's Counter-Guerrilla notes that it was 
headquartered in the same Ankara building that housed the U.S. mili- 
tary mission, and that the training of officers assigned to this unit "be- 
gins in the U.S. and then continues inside Turkey under the direction of 
CIA officers and military 'advisers.' " During the 1960s, according to 
the same study, the CIA assisted the Turkish intelligence organization 
MIT in drawing up plans for the mass arrest of opposition figures; and 
the same work claims that this plan was put into operation following the 
1971 coup. 43 Another study, by former Turkish military prosecutor and 

40. By the end of Fiscal Year 1950 the Turks had received $150 million in economic 
aid, plus over $200 million in military aid, along with over 1 ,200 U S military advisers 
Joyce and Gabriel Kolko. The Limits of Power (New York: Harper & Row, 1 972), p. 4 1 3 . 

4 1 . Michael T . Klare and Cynthia Amson . Supplying Repression: U S Support for Au- 
thoritarian Regimes Abroad (Washington: Institute for Policy Studies, 1981), p. 81 

42. See Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network (Boston: South End Press, 
1982), pp. 121-32. 

43. Jurgen Roth and Kamil Taylan, Die Turkei—Republik Unter Wolf en [Turkey: A Re- 
public Ruled by Wolves], (Bomheim, West Germany: Lamur Verlag, 1981) Excerpts 
from this study were translated in CounterSpy, Vol. VI, No. 2 (February-April 1982), pp. 
23 and 25, and some of it was reprinted in "Tiirkische Mafia Und Die Grauen Wolfe in 



62 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Supreme Court Justice Emin Deger, states that there was a close, work- 
ing collaboration between the NAP armed commandos, or Bozkurts, 
and the Counter-Guerrilla units. There was also a close tie between the 
Counter-Guerrilla and the CIA. Deger charged further that the CIA, act- 
ing through MIT and the Counter-Guerrilla, promoted rightwing ter- 
rorist actions to destabilize the Turkish government and to prepare the 
way for the military coup of 1 971. 44 It also seems quite clear that the 
United States and the CIA were very anxious to oust the Demirel gov- 
ernment in 1971, and assisted in the coup of that year. According to 
former U.S. diplomat Robert Fresco, Demirel's government had simply 
become incapable of containing the growing anti-U.S. radicalism in 
Turkey." Turkish writer Ismail Cem argues, in his March 12 From the 
Perspective of History, that the failure of the Demirel government to 
deal with the "Hashish Question" — i.e., to curb hashish and heroin 
production in eastern Turkey — as well as its failure to check radicalism, 
prompted U.S. support for the coup. 44 

Within this broad framework of overwhelming U.S. influence in Tur- 
key and its apparent willingness to use it to manipulate Turkish politics, 
there are indications that the United States, and particularly the CIA, 
exercised influence in the rightwing political sectors that included the 
Gray Wolves. The CIA-Gray Wolves Connection starts with the "Cap- 
tive Turks," those peoples of Turkic origin who lived in the Soviet 
Union and were the objects of much of the Pan-Turkish propaganda and 
solicitude. These Captive Turks provided a target of opportunity for 
U.S. intelligence in the post- World War II years similar to the Byelorus- 
sians, Ukrainians, and others who joined forces with the Nazis against 
the Soviet Union and later enlisted in the shadowy East European net- 
works of the CIA. These latter operations have recently received a great 
deal of publicity, particularly as a result of the work of John Loftus and 

Der Schweiz". op. cit., n. 26. 

44. Emin Deger. CIA. Counter-Guerrilla, and Turkey, citad in S. Benhabib, "Right- 
Wing Groups Behind Political Violence in Turkey," MERIP Reports, No. 77 (May 
1 979), p. 17. Deger bases pan of his argument on what he calls the ' ' Dickson Report, ' ' a 
document which was apparently the product of U.S. military intelligence in Turkey and 
which argues, according to Deger, "the common goals of imperialism with the Justice 
Party" (p 1 38). The authenticity of this document has been disputed (see Claire Sterling, 
The Terror Network (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981), p. 333), but no evi- 
dence has ever been published by those who claim it is a forgery. 

45. Robert M. Fresco, "A Problem of Visibility," The Nation, September 14, 1980. 
46 Ismail Cem. Tarih Acisindan 12 Mart (Istanbul: CEM, 1977) 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



63 



his book, The Belarus Secret. Loftus discovered that a secret division of 
the U.S. State Department had recruited the leadership of a Byelorus- 
sian military unit which had governed that region of the Soviet Union 
while it was under Nazi occupation. This "Belarus Brigade" had par- 
ticipated zealously in massacres of Jews, and had retreated westward 
with the defeated German Army, even engaging U.S. military forces in 
combat. Loftus found that the State Department's secret Office of Pol- 
icy Coordination had recruited the Byelorussians, thinking that they 
were gaining a working intelligence apparatus and the nucleus of a pos- 
sible guerrilla operation within the Soviet Union. 47 While no evidence 
has come to light of a similar U.S. operation directed toward the tattered 
remnants of those units of Soviet Turks that had fought alongside the 
Germans against the Soviet Union, there is no reason to suppose that the 
U.S. motivations and practices toward pro-Nazi East Europeans that 
have been exposed by Loftus were not also operative in the U.S. ap- 
proach to Turks. 

The best-known link between the CIA and the modern-day Pan-Tur- 
kish movement is that provided by Ruzi Nazar. Nazar is a Turkoman 
who was bom near Tashkent in the Soviet Union and deserted the Red 
Army to join the Nazis during World War II. After the war Nazar was 
recruited by the CIA, and according to Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu, 
he "was successful in penetrating Turkish fascist circles in the days 
when Agca worked as a hired gun" for the NAP.'" In the 1950s Nazar 

47. John Loftus, The Belarus Secret (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982). Some indica- 
tion of the Pentagon's interest in the "Captive Turks" is given in the prefatory material in 
Charles W. Hostler's Turkism and the Soviets. Hostler was a member of the U S . Military 
Mission to Turkey from 1948 to 1950; and. while a member of the U.S. Air Force, con- 
ducted this study on Turkish peoples within the U.S. S R. In his Introduction he notes that. 
"My aim is to consider the political potentiality of the Turkish world. . . Inthecaseofa 
Third World War — or intensification of the Cold War — or in case of internal troubles in- 
volving disintegration of Soviet power, Turkish nationalism (especially the Pan-Turkish 
variety of Turkish nationalism) will influence the policies of the Turkish Republic and the 
action of the politically developed Turkish peoples of the Soviet Union." (Ibid., pp. 2-3.) 
The Turkish military government's 945-page indictment of the NAP in May 1981 in- 
cluded a letter from the party's West European leader, Enver Altayli, to Tiirkes. in which 
Altayli listed his West German intelligence contacts. Among them was a Dr Mehmet 
Kengerli, who was described as a former Nazi SS officer bom in Azerbaijan. Marvine 
Howe, "Turks Say Suspect in Papal Attack is Tied to Rightist Web of Intrigue," New 
York Times, May 18, 1981. 

48. Mumcu was interviewed and some of his work summarized in the Atlanta Constitu- 
tion, January 30, 1983. Mumcu claims to have received information about Nazar's CIA 
links from a Turkish general who maintained close ties with Nazar. 



64 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



had worked as a part-time contributor tc the Voice of America, and it 
was perhaps through this work that he met Paul Henze, who was then 
working for the CIA at Radio Free Europe. Nazar apparently joined 
Henze when the latter was sent by the CIA to the U.S. Embassy in Tur- 
key in 1959. But by the time that Henze had become Chief of Station in 
1974, Nazar's cover had been blown and his usefulness in Turkey had 
come to an end. Nazar was then transferred to the U.S. Embassy in 
Bonn where, according to Mumcu, his assignment was to penetrate 
Gray Wolves organizations for the CIA, while maintaining his close ties 
to Col. Tiirkes and the NAP. 49 Nazar was still active in these functions 
in the 1980s. His continuing extreme rightwing orientation is evidenced 
by the fact that he is a leading member of the Munich-based Anti-Bol- 
shevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), and represented that organization at the 
World Anticommunist League Convention in Dallas in September 
1985. 50 

In sum, the links of the CIA to the NAP and Gray Wolves were easily 
as impressive as any NAP-Gray Wolves connections to the Bulgarians." 
While the NAP was admittedly ambivalent toward the capitalist West, it 
shared with the West an unmitigated hostility toward the Soviets that 
makes a CIA connection to the assassination attempt more politically 
credible than a Bulgarian Connection. Finally, there is a matter of re- 
sults. If we look for the source of the Plot in the real beneficiaries, the 
Plot turned out very well for the United States and badly for the Soviets. 
Nonetheless, we do not believe that the CIA was behind the Plot. In our 
view, the origin of the shooting lies in the Gray Wolves' ideology and 
Agca's need to attain hero status by a political act. The benefits to the 
West accrued from the "second conspiracy" — the induced confession 
in Rome — and not by the shooting per se. 

49. In his book Papa, Mafya. Agca, Mumcu reproduces a long letter from the West 
German Gray Wolves leader Enver Altayli to Tiirkes, which indicates clearly that a 
friendly and cooperative relationship existed between Altayli and Ruzi Nazar, and that 
Altayli obtained inf ormation from Nazar (pp. 1 45-46 V Nazar also had a direct and cordial 
relationship with Tiirkes (p. 144). Mumcu also reports that while still in Turkey in the 
early 1970s, Nazar helped Tiirkes's daughter obtain a job in a U.S. airlines agency. See 
his Agca Dosyasi (Istanbul: Tekin Yayinevi, 1 984), pp 28-29. 

50. Martin A Lee and Kevin Coogan, "The Agca Con," Village Voice, December 24, 
1985, p. 23. 

51. The Soviet author lona Andronov has put up a CIA-based model that is somewhat 
more credible than that of Claire Sterling. See Appendix O. 



THREE: AGCA AND THE GRAY WOLVES 



65 



Final Note 



Mehmet Ali Agca was a Turkish fascist, linked closely to the Gray 
Wolves and working with them every step on the way to Rome. This 
was amply reconfirmed at the 1985-86 trial, which highlighted the com- 
plex web of associations linking Agca to other Gray Wolves activists. 
At the same time, the trial produced not a shred of evidence, indepen- 
dent of Agca's own testimony, that he had had any contact with a Bul- 
garian in Sofia, Rome, or elsewhere. Thus, when Agca entered Bulgaria 
through a border customs station controlled by the Gray Wolves, or 
when he procured a passport issued in the name of NAP militant Faruk 
Ozgun, obtained with the help of Abdullah Catli and a customs official 
also in the Gray Wolves, there is no reason not to take these events at 
face value: One of Turkey's most notorious terrorists had boarded the 
"underground railroad" long used by the Gray Wolves to get their 
drugs, guns, money, and militants back and forth between Turkey and 
Western Europe. 



4. Hie Rome-Washington 
Connection 



The creation and institutionalization of the Bulgarian Connection 
must be situated in the political environment of the late 1970s and 
early 1980s. In the late seventies, anti-ddtente forces within the United 
States waged a furious battle against the second Strategic Arms Limita- 
tion Treaty (SALT II) and any further pursuit of understandings and rap- 
prochement between the great powers. Aided by the Iranian hostage 
crisis, they were sufficiently powerful and well mobilized to be able to 
kill SALT II and help usher in the New Cold War. 

In Italy, also, the strengthening of the Communist Party in the mid- 
1 970s and the threat of its participation in government had aroused great 
fears in U.S. officials and Italian conservatives. A landmark in the ero- 
sion of that threat was the murder of moderate Christian Democratic 
leader Aldo Moro in 1978.' The recession of the late 1970s and early 

I . Although Moro was murdered by the Red Brigades, the ultimate source of his death 
is in dispute. As noted in the text below, Moro was number one on the hit list of an 
aborted rightwing conspiracy of 1966, Plan Solo. Contacts with the Red Brigades were 
made by a variety of political interests: Libya, George Habash's Popular Front for the Lib- 
eration of Palestine, the CIA, and Israel (which sought a relationship with the Red 
Brigades in the hopes that destabilization in Italy would make the United States more de- 
pendent on Israel as its Mediterranean area ally). (See Luciano Violante, "Politica delta 
sicurezza, relazioni intemazionali e terrorismo," in Gianfranco Pasquino, editor. La 
ProvaDelle Armi (Istituto Carlo Cattaneo, Bologna: Societa Editrice II Mulino, 1984), p. 
110, note 54.) Violante declares ironically that "the only services to which the Red 
Brigades seem to have been impenetrable are the Italian ones" (p. 112), but this is not 
firmly established. It is an interesting fact that the Italian establishment refused to ransom 
Moro, although they paid lavishly to obtain the release of a lesser Christian Democratic 
functionary, Ciro Cinllo. The Italian security services were remarkably ineffective in 
locating the kidnapped Moro, missing important leads. Diana Johnstone notes that "Gen- 
eral Musumeci interpreted the clear tip to Moro's whereabouts, 'Gradoli.' as the village of 



66 



FOUR. THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



67 



1980s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the new wave of terrorism, 
and the New Cold War environment in the United States strengthened 
the Right and Center and weakened the Communist Party and Italian 
popular movements. With the coming into power of Reagan, the ruling 
Italian parties joined the New Cold War with enthusiasm and competed 
energetically for honors as the local favorite. 



The New Cold War and the "Antiterrorism" Offensive 



In the United States the forces opposing detente have had an important 
institutional representative in the Committee on the Present Danger 
(CPD) and its follow-on Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM). 
The CPD has had high-level representation in both political parties. 2 
Among the intellectual weapons used by the CPD and its allies, "inter- 
national terrorism" and the "Soviet Threat" rank supreme. By the mid- 
1970s, the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome" had weakened the force of 
traditional anticommunist appeals in rallying support for U.S. interven- 
tion abroad. Terrorist and Soviet threats are well suited to reinvigorate 
that traditional appeal, and they have been used regularly by the CPD to 
justify a more aggresssive stance toward the Soviet Union (and all of its 
alleged proxies and sympathizers). 

A major problem for the CPD faction has been credibility: What can 
the media and public be induced to swallow in the way of evidence of 

Gradoli in Viterbo province, and dispatched police there in vain. Moro was actually being 
held right in Rome, in the via Gradoli, as was discovered too late. Musumeci led another 
wild goose chase to a frozen mountain lake on a false tip that, when published, was inter- 
preted by the Red Brigades as a signal from the authorities that Moro's death was ac- 
cepted." ("Latest scandal leads to Reagan administration," InTheseTimes, December 5- 
II, 1984.) Given the damaging effect of the death of Moro on the Communist Party and the 
Left in general, a rightist role in channeling the Red Brigades actions is a plausible, even 
if unproven, hypothesis. Further support to the hypothesis is given by other Red Brigades 
actions that have been immensely convenient to the Italian Right, such as their latest 
crime, the March 27, 1985 murder of economist Ezio Tarantelli, killed by the Red 
Brigades allegedly because of his interest in weakening a protective wage-price 
mechanism. But not only was Tarantelli an implausible target, his murder swung popular 
support toward the very things the Red Brigades claimed to be opposing. Are they dumb 
fanatics or serving a hidden agenda? 

2. Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a member of the 
CPD. Brzezinski 's chief of propaganda was Paul Henze, a long-time CIA officer and one 
of the leading exponents of the Bulgarian Connection. See Chapter 6. 



68 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the Soviet Threat? In the late 1970s the claim of Soviet military 
superiority and U.S. "unilateral disarmament" made substantial head- 
way, and a further tum to the right yielded a further enhancement of 
media and public gullibility. A continuing difficulty, however, was 
that — aside from remote Afghanistan — the failure of the Soviet Union 
to send troops beyond its borders made the Soviet Threat too abstract for 
some Americans and many Europeans. Something closer to home was 
needed. 

A substantial contribution to solving this dilemma came from the 
State of Israel. Israel was under international attack in the late 1970s for 
its policies of forcibly displacing Arabs and installing Jewish settlers on 
the West Bank, its violation of the civil rights of non-Jews, and its re- 
fusal to recognize any Palestinian right of self-determination. In 1979 
even the Carter administration assailed Israel for its violations of Arab 
rights, and 59 well-known U.S. Jews petitioned Prime Minister 
Menachem Begin to reconsider his policy of expropriation and resettle- 
ment. 

The Israeli solution to this problem was to step up the propaganda 
war. This had two features. One was to identify the Palestinians as "ter- 
rorists." This served to dehumanize them and make it possible to deal 
with them as "two-legged animals" (Begin), which is to say, on the 
basis of force alone. The second theme of the invigorated propaganda 
campaign was to claim that the PLO was a tool of the Soviet Union, and 
that the Soviets were engaged in a worldwide campaign to destabilize 
the democracies. This second theme was well designed to appeal to 
U.S. conservatives and to fit in with the Reagan presidential campaign 
and programs. Israel would be a front-line defender of democracy 
against "Soviet-sponsored terrorism." The forcible Israeli settlement of 
the West Bank and refusal to deal with the Palestinians would be ac- 
cepted as part of the unified struggle against "international terrorism," 
rather than as a denial of basic human rights. 

An important focal point of this refurbished, two-tiered propaganda 
campaign was the first meeting of the Jonathan Institute, held under Is- 
raeli auspices in Jerusalem from July 2-5, 1979. The Jonathan Institute 
is a virtual arm of the Israeli government, 3 and representation at the July 
1979 conference included a very large contingent from the Israeli state, 

3. For a brief account of the Institute, see "The Jonathan Institute," Cover/Action In- 
formation Bulletin, Number 22 (Fall 1984), p. 5. The Institute has met twice since its 
original meeting, once in Washington and again in Israel 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



69 



especially from the defense and intelligence establishments." The U.S. 
contingent was virtually a Who's Who of the CPD and CDM, including 
Richard Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Senator Henry 
Jackson, Ben Wattenberg, George Will, and Bayard Rustin. Also pre- 
sent from the United States were Claire Sterling and Vice-President-to- 
be George Bush. CIA and other U.S. intelligence representation was 
substantial: Bush, former Director of the CIA; Ray Cline, former CIA 
Deputy Director for Intelligence; and Major-General George Keegan, 
Jr., former chief of Air Force intelligence. Present from Great Britain 
were Brian Crozier and Robert Moss, both long-time assets of the CIA 
and British intelligence. 

The conference opened with an address by Israeli Prime Minister 
Begin, who urged the conference members to get out and disseminate 
the "Soviet terrorism" message. While- the conference was still in ses- 
sion, Ian Black of the Jerusalem Post noted that ' The Conference or- 
ganizers expect the event to initiate a major anti-terrorist offensive.'" 
The participants were well situated to implement this offensive. Many 
were important politicians, and a large contingent were media pundits 
with direct access to a mass audience. Throughout the West the confer- 
ence propaganda theme resounded, immediately and repetitively. In 
France, Jacques Soustelle, former leader of the OAS secret army (par- 
doned in 1968 for his treasonous activity during the Algerian war), a 
conference participant and newspaper correspondent, summed it all up 
in L'Aurore: The conference had "confirmed" that the Soviets "pull all 
the strings" behind "international terrorism." "Toujours le 
K.G.B.' " was the paper's caption. The same point was made to a re- 
ceptive western press by Will, Wattenberg, Sterling, Crozier, and 
Moss. The Jonathan Institute conference sponsors issued a compendium 
of world press coverage some time later, noting in the introduction: 

The Western press . . . responded to the challenge. As these pages show, the 
Conference's message penetrated into many of the leading newspapers and jour- 
nals in the United States, Western Europe, South America and elsewhere. That 
the Conference had finally exposed what speaker Robert Moss, Editor of the 
Economist Foreign Report, called the "Conspiracy of Silence" was no better 
demonstrated than in the television documentary called The Russian Connec- 

4. Four former chiefs of Israeli military intelligence participated in the conference. Our 
account of the conference draws on the va luable M A . Thesis in International Relations by 
Philip Paull, "International Terrorism: The Propaganda War," San Francisco State 
University, June 1982. 

5 Quoted in ibid., p 19 



70 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



lion. Jointly produced by the American Public Broadcasting Service and the 
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it was shown nationally in the United 
States and Canada on September 25, 1979. 

On November 2, 1980, the last Sunday before the U.S. presidential 
election that brought Reagan to power, the New York Times Magazine 
carried an article by Robert Moss entitled "Terror: a Soviet Export." 
(This is the same Moss who had previously been exposed as the author 
of a CIA-funded attack on Allende, 10,000 copies of which were bought 
by the Pinochet government.) This article, so strategically placed and 
timed, symbolizes the power of the rightwing syndicate that met in July 
1979, and the alliance between that syndicate and the mass media. It 
also served to usher in the Reagan-Haig propaganda campaign and its 
focus on "international terrorism." 

Reagan, Haig, Weinberger, and company faced a problem similar to 
that of Begin. They came into office determined to reestablish clear 
U.S. military superiority over the Soviet Union. As spelled out in the 
Pentagon's Five- Year Plan, the objective was to allow the United States 
to operate without constraint over the entire globe — even to destabilize 
and roll back the Soviet Empire. 6 An arms race would also be useful in 
impoverishing the Soviet Union, as the poorer country would have to 
spend to painful excess to keep only modestly behind the wealthier and 
more technologically advanced one. While this strategy is clear, 7 the 
cooperative western media have not allowed this reality to interfere with 
their uncritical transmission of official U.S. claims of Soviet prowess, 

6. A summary of this Five-Year Plan was provided by Richard Halloran, "Pentagon 
Draws Up First Strategy For Fighting a Long Nuclear War," New YorkTimes, May 30, 
1982. 

7. Halloran says, "As a peacetime complement to military strategy, the guidance docu- 
ment asserts that the United States and its allies should, in effect, declare economic and 
technical war on the Soviet Union. It says that the United States should develop weapons 
that 'are difficult for the Soviets to counter, impose disproportionate costs, open up new 
areas of major military competition and obsolesce previous Soviet investment.' " Hallo- 
ran continues: "At the other end of the scale, the plan says that 'we must revitalize and 
enhance special-operations forces to project United States power where the use of conven- 
tional forces would be premature, inappropriate or infeasible,' particularly in Eastern 
Europe. Special operations is a euphemism for guerrillas, saboteurs, commandos and 
similar unconventional forces. . . Further, 'to exploit political, economic and military 
weaknesses within the Warsaw Pact and to disrupt enemy rear operations, special-opera- 
tions forces will conduct operations in Eastern Europe and in the northern and southern 
NATO regions,' the document says. Particular attention would be given to eroding sup- 
port within the Soviet sphere of Eastern Europe." Ibid. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



71 



bargaining chip strategies, and the genuine interest of the Reagan ad- 
ministration in arms control and reducing nuclear arms to zero. 8 

Nevertheless, the contradiction between the Reagan arms buildup and 
the assertions of benign purposes is so immense that a larger infusion of 
propaganda has been required. In fact, it has been necessary to stir up a 
serious quantum of fear and irrationality to bridge the Reagan credibility 
gap. The public had to be convinced that the Reagan policies were de- 
signed to contend with something truly threatening and evil. The theme 
of Soviet sponsorship of international terrorism has served this need ef- 
fectively. The way in which the Reagan administration took advantage 
of the Soviet downing of the Korean airliner, using it as a propaganda 
instrument to dehumanize the enemy, is an object lesson in both the uses 
of propaganda and the perceived importance of placing the Soviets in a 
bad light.' To be able to pin the attempted assassination of the Pope on 
the Soviet Union would be an even more important propaganda coup. 
Accomplishing this useful end was a challenge to western intelligence, 
media, and political institutions, but it was one which they met with re- 
markable success. 



The Italian Context: The Fascist Tradition and the Postwar 
Rehabilitation of the Right 



Western commentators have typically assumed that Italian authorities 
investigated the Bulgarian Connection reluctantly, embarrassed by its 
international implications, and that they pursued the case with the integ- 
rity and fair play characteristic of the Free World. That the very exist- 
ence of the Bulgarian Connection might possibly be explained by its 

8. The New York Times, having published the excellent summary by Halloran cited in 
the previous note, then proceeded to ignore its implications in its editorials over the next 
several years. 

9. For a discussion of the treatment of Korean Air Line flight 007 as a model prop- 
aganda exercise, see Edward S. Herman, "Gatekeeper Versus Propaganda Models: A 
Case Study," in Peter Golding, Graham Murdock, and Philip Schlesinger. eds , Com- 
municating Politics: Essays in Memory of Philip Elliott (Leicester: University of Leicester 
Press. 1986) 



72 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Italian context — by conservative vested interests, political infighting, 
and Cold War politics — is a point that never arises in the western media. 
This reflects a potent propaganda system at work. 

In reality, Italy has been periodically torn by major political scandals 
ever since its defeat in the Second World War. An important feature of 
postwar Italy was the continued and virtually unimpaired power of the 
industrial, financial, military, and intelligence elite that had worked for 
Mussolini. The rehabilitation of the Mussolini-era elite was part of a 
worldwide phenomenon, by which U.S. and allied occupying armies 
systematically supported the very forces which had collaborated with 
fascism — whether in Korea or Thailand, Italy or Germany. 10 Thus, in 
the Italian case, the prime aim of the U.S. occupying authorities was to 
contain and defeat the leftwing forces that had achieved great strength as 
antifascist partisans." U.S. protection of Klaus Barbie was in no way an 
exception: 12 The U.S. occupying authorities in Italy went to great pains 
to protect Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, a noted fascist collaborator 
with the Nazis, 13 and most senior fascist politicians and military and se- 
cret police figures were quickly returned to positions of power under al- 
lied pressure. 

This antidemocratic underpinning to the superimposed democratic 
framework was strengthened by the Cold War. Fascist forces gained 
greater confidence as they came to understand their serviceability to 
Washington as protectors of the Free World. As Italy was seen in 
Washington as an especially vulnerable area, given its large Communist 
Party and powerful working class movement, the United States did not 
hesitate to bolster the power of these Mussolini-era holdovers in the in- 
terest of containing the Left. 

10. See Noam Chomsky, "Containing the Anti-Fascist Resistance: From Death Camps 
to Death Squads," in his Turning the Tide: U.S. Intervention in Central America and the 
Struggle for Peace (Boston: South End Press, 1985). 

1 1 . See Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War (New York: Random House. 1 968), pp. 60- 
63; Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1972). 
pp. 147-51; Basil Davidson, Scenes From The Anti-Nazi War (New York: Monthly Re- 
view Press, 1980); and Roberto Faenza and Marco Fini. Gli americani in Italia (Milan: 
Feltrinelli. 1976) 

12. See Magnus Linklater, Isabel Hinton and Neal Ascherson, The Fourth Reich: Klaus 
Barbie and the Neo-Fascist Connection (London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1984). 

1 3 . On the roles of James Angleton (OSS, later CIA) and Ellery Stone, head of the Al- 
lied Control Commission, in the protection of Borghese, see Faenza and Fini, op. cit., n. 
1 1 , p. 327. See also, Francoise Hervet, "Knights of Darkness: The Sovereign Military 
Order of Malta," CoverlAclion Information Bulletin, Number 25 (Winter 1986), pp 30- 
31 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



73 



U.S. Penetration and Manipulation. With its military occupation of 
Italy during and immediately after World War II, the United States was 
not only the major force reshaping the Italian political economy, it es- 
tablished a patron-client relationship that persists up to the present. This 
relationship was based on U.S. economic and military power, an ag- 
gressive use of that power, and the willingness of the Italian elite to 
enter into a profitable though subordinate relationship with an external 
protector. 

As in 1922, when Mussolini seized control of the Italian state, the 
threat of the Left in postwar Italy was the overriding concern of U . S . au- 
thorities, and they were prepared to go far to keep the Left out of 
power. 14 Enormous resources were poured into Italy to manipulate the 
postwar elections. A Marshall Plan subsidy of some $227 million was 
voted by Congress just prior to the Italian elections of April 18, 1948. 
Much of this money was transmitted secretly to the Christian Democrat- 
ic Party and to the split-off trade unions organized under U.S. sponsor- 
ship. 15 In the mid-1970s the Pike Committee of the U.S. House of Rep- 
resentatives estimated that $65 million had been invested in Italian elec- 
tions in the period 1948-68. Ten million dollars was pumped into the 
election of 1972." Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti estimated CIA 
outlays were $20-30 million a year in the 1950s, dropping to a mere $10 
million a year in the 1960s. These funds were also used to subsidize 
newspapers, anticommunist labor unions, Catholic groups, and favored 
political parties (mainly the Christian Democrats). 17 

A second thrust of U.S. policy was the buildup of the Right. Accord- 
ing to one study of the U.S. penetration of Italy: 1 " 

14 US officials and leading businessmen had greeted enthusiastically Mussolini's 
march on Rome and overthrow of a democratic order, regarding it as a defeat for Bol 
shevism and reformism and a return to "stability " For the magnate and Secretary of the 
Treasury Andrew Mellon, Mussolini was "a very upstanding chap . making a new na- 
tion out of Italy." According to Judge Elbert Gary, Chairman of U S. Steel, "a master 
hand has, indeed, strongly grasped the helm of the Italian state. " For details see David F 
Schwartz, '"A Fine Young Revolution': The United States and the Fascist Revolution in 
Italy, 1919-1925," Radical History Review, 33 (1985), pp 117-38 

15. Faenza and Fini, op. cil , n. I 1, pp. 267-304, especially p 298 

16. CIA: The Pike Report (Nottingham: Spokesman Books, 1977), p 193. 

17. "TheCIAin Italy: An Interview with Victor Marchetti," in Philip Ageeand Louis 
Wolf, eds . , Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe (Secaucus, N.J : Lyle Stuart. 1 97 1 1 , 
pp. 168-69. 

18. "The CIA Collects Fascists," Faenza and Fini, op. cit., n II, p. 262. 



74 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The link between American strategic services and armed reactionary groups was 
established in 1944 when James Angleton was invited to Rome by the OSS to 
direct the "Special Operations" section and then the Strategic Services Unit. 
His relations with the movements of the Right and with the clandestine forma- 
tions always had a double objective: on the one hand, to receive anticommunist 
information and, on the other, to utilize certain men and certain groups in spe- 
cial operations. ... It is certain that many of the initiatives taken by the Italian 
extreme Right in those years found aid, connivance and especially legitimation 
from these services. 

A National Security Council report of March 1968 stressed the U.S. 
undertaking "to help out the clandestine anticommunist [i.e., extreme 
Right and fascist] movement with funds and military assistance." It 
contended that the Italian army affords "no serious guarantee against 
Tito's [sic!] armies . . . [which] makes it necessary that all forces an- 
ticommunist in sentiment should be taken into consideration.'" 9 Fol- 
lowing the victory of the Right in the elections of April 1948, a new, 
secret antisubversive police force was established under the Ministry of 
Interior, with U.S. advisers. This was filled largely from the old fascist 
secret police of Mussolini. At the same time, the fascist party Italian So- 
cial Movement (MSI) began a massive expansion program, with the as- 
sistance of U.S. intelligence officials. 20 MSI had significant backing 
from business interests in both Italy and the United States, and probably 
received financial support from the U.S. government. 11 The honorary 
chairman of MSI was Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, the long-time fas- 
cist leader, who had been protected by the United States at the end of the 
war. General Vito Miceli, another MSI leader, received an $800,000 
U.S. subsidy through U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin in 1972." MSI 
official Luigi Turchi was a guest of honor at the Nixon White House in 
1972. " 

19. "The Importance of Recognizing Anticommunist Revolutionary [sic] Forces." 
NSC Document No. 740454, March 12, 1968, quoted in Stuart Christie, Stefano delle 
Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist (London: Refract Publications, 1984), p. 10. 

20. Christie, op. cit., n. 19, pp. 10-12. 

21 . La Strage di Stato: Controinchiesta (Rome: Edizioni Samona e Savelli, 1970), pp. 
115 ff. 

22. Diana Johnstone, "The 'fright story' of Claire Sterling's tales of terrorism," In 
These Times. May 20-26, 1981, p. 10; CIA: The Pike Report, op. cit.. n. 16, p. 195. 

23. Christie, op. cit., n. 19, pp. 44-45. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



75 



A third strand of U.S. containment policy was the buildup and 
strengthening of Italy's military and intelligence services, manned by 
the proper anticommunist cadres. In 1949, in the framework of Italy's 
joining NATO, the Information Service of the Armed Forces (SIFAR)" 
was organized under the guidance of U.S. intelligence. The close re- 
lationship between Italy's joining NATO and the reorganization of the 
Italian intelligence services is enlightening. According to the most re- 
cent study of the Italian secret services, by Giuseppe De Lutiis: 25 

Between the two events there is a strict temporal succession: March 30 the re- 
constitution of the services being decided, and then the signing of the Atlantic 
alliance on April 4. On August 1, Parliament ratified the adhesion of Italy to the 
Pact, on August 24, NATO became operational and on September I, SIFAR 
started. . . . 

According to Gianni Flamini, SIFAR was essentially established by 
the CIA, and served as a "docile referent" of all the American ser- 
vices — the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence 
Agency, and the National Security Agency — as well as the West Ger- 
man secret service, the Bundesnachrichtdienst (BND). 26 Flamini 
states: 27 

In substance, SIFAR was also a kind of pi»d-a-terre for American espionage 
agencies, an instrument used to collect information useful to Washington, to 
control the loyalty to NATO of the Italian armed forces, to interfere in political 
life, and to orient the selection of military officers in favor of the interests of 
American strategy and American big industry. 

The dependent status of Italy's intelligence services is spelled out 
more precisely by Massimo Caprara: 28 

24. This name was later changed, becoming SID. SID in turn was eventually divided 
into SISDE, concerned with internal security affairs, and SISMI, the service with respon- 
sibility for external intelligence matters. 

25. Giuseppe De Lutiis, Sioria dei servi2i segreti in Italia (Rome: Editori Reuniti, 
1985), pp. 46-47. 

26. Gianni Flamini, // panito del golpe: Le stralegie delta tensione e del terrore dal 
prima cenlrosinislra organico al sequestro Moro, I (Ferrara: halo Bovolenta, 1981 ), pp. 
5-7. 

27. Ibid., p. 7. 

28. Massimo Caprara, "I setti diavoli custodi," // Mondo, June 20, 1974, quoted in De 
Lutiis. op. cil., n. 25, p. 46. 



76 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



On the basis of the NATO accords, SID [the later name of SIFAR] was obliged 
to pass information and to receive instructions from a central office attached to 
the CIA. . . . The code name of the receiving office in the USA was Brenno In 
strictly military matters, the relations with the USA were conducted with the 
ONI [Office of Naval Investigations], with OSI [Office of Special Investiga- 
tions (Air Force)] , and with the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] , which de- 
pended, in turn, on the Defense Department and which also collected informa- 
tion in technical and scientific fields. . . . 

De Lutiis points out that the obligations of the secret services go 
beyond this, as they rely on U.S. facilities in the fields of espionage and 
telecommunications, including NSA interception and decoding of sig- 
nals, and the secret services are parties to a 1 947 western intelligence 
agency information pooling system in which their unequal status was 
fixed by prior agreement." 

SIFAR was the instrument of a "permanent project of anticommunist 
offensive called in code Demagnetize, a version analogous to a similar 
project under way in France.'" 0 The main features of this project, ac- 
cording to Flamini, 3 ' were 

political, psychological and paramilitary operations aiming to reduce the pre- 
sence of the Italian communist party. . . . The ultimate objective of the plan is 
to reduce the strength of the communist parties, their material resources, their 
influence in the French and Italian governments and particularly in the trade un- 
ions, in order to reduce as much as possible the danger that communism poses in 
France and Italy, in accord with the interests of the United States in these two 
countries. 

The extreme rightwing orientation of SIFAR is indicated by the fact 
that in 1952 its project Demagnetize was directed by Giovanni De 
Lorenzo (head of SIFAR) and, from U.S. intelligence, Vemon Walters. 
Walters has been a central figure in U.S. destabilization efforts abroad. 
He was active in Brazil in the coup of 1964, and close to Pinochet and 
the head of the secret police, Manuel Contreras, in Chile. De Lorenzo, a 
man of the extreme Right and a friend of Borghese, 32 was a principal 
planner and organizer of two attempted fascist coups in postwar Italy. 
De Lorenzo also became head of the Italian carabinieri, the largest 

29 Ibid. p. 47. 

30 Roberto Faenza, // malaffare (Milan: Mondadon, 1978), p. 3 1 3, quoted in Flamini, 

op. cil., n. 26, p. 10. 

31. Ibid. 

32. De Lutiis, op. cil., n. 25, p. 105. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



77 



paramilitary police force in Europe, which was quickly integrated into 
the defense plans of NATO." Both SIFAR and the carabinieri were 
loaded up with individuals of the Right. 

A fourth thread of U.S. policy in Italy was preparing organizations 
and contingency plans specifically oriented to contesting a victory of the 
Left, even if brought about by strictly democratic processes. Marchetti 
noted in 1974 that "the CIA has emergency plans," and he thought that 
the possibility of a coup d'etat along the lines of that of the Greek Colo- 
nels in 1967 was a likely CIA scenario. The military and intelligence 
structures put in place in Italy, as in Greece and Chile, were well suited 
to such contingency plans. NATO, for example, strongly encouraged 
the development of secret military and paramilitary organizations under 
the rubric of Civil Emergency Planning, with forces and plans that 
would go into action in defense of the Free World in the event of a 
Soviet (or Yugoslav!) invasion or internal political upheavals. The 
workings of this protective model were on full display in Greece in 
1967, when the fascist Colonels' takeover put into effect the NATO 
contingency "Plan Prometheus" in toppling the democratically elected 
government. The forces implementing this plan were elite members of 
the U.S. -trained and NATO-controlled Mountain Assault Brigade. , •' It 
should be noted that this coup, using NATO forces, was not in response 
to a Soviet invasion or any internal Communist threat — it merely facili- 
tated the preservation in power of a government that would be strongly 
responsive to U.S. and NATO orders, and removed the threat of one 
coming to power that would be somewhat more independent. 

The buildup of NATO military and paramilitary forces to combat the 
threat from the Left was actually part of a larger U .S. strategic plan. The 
1960s was the age of maturation of the U.S. "insurance policy" strate- 
gy of building up security forces in client states, training them in coun- 
terinsurgency methods, indoctrinating them on the Communist threat, 
and then sending them home to protect "freedom." 35 Although this was 

33 Ibid., pp. 25-28, Terracini el al., Le insliluzioni mililari e V ordinamento cos- 
riiuzionale (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1974), p. 54. SIFAR had an economic research section 
(REI) that worked closely with Italian industry, serving as an informational link and coor- 
dinator of activities between intelligence agencies and business. The head of the research 
unit stressed the role of intelligence in facilitating economic policy — for example, its ser- 
vice in combating Communist attempts to exploit austerity measures. See Flamini, op. 
cit , n. 26, p. 17. 

34. Christie, op. cit.. n. 19, p. 39. 

35. See especially, Miles Wolpin, Military Aid and Counterrevolution in the Third 
World (Boston: Lexington, 1972). The concept of an "insurance policy" strategy is based 
on a speech by U.S General Robert W Porter, who described our investment in the Latin 



78 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



all done under Che facade of "protecting democracy," 36 this pretense 
was one of the great hypocrisies of modem times. In the wake of this 
strategy came a series of counterrevolutions, led by U.S. -trained mili- 
tary and security service personnel, that left Latin America covered with 
neofascist National Security States, and institutionalized torture and 
death squads. 37 Fascists are reliable anticommunists, and where an- 
ticommunism is the paramount value, there will be little hesitancy in 
mobilizing them to do the dirty work and to rule or share the rule of 
threatened clients. 

In Italy, the formation of NATO led to the development of auxiliary 
forces, recruited from the fascist underground, who could act under of- 
ficial cover as part of a military backup force. Under this program, spe- 
cial training was given by the Italian armed forces in western Sardinia to 
members of Stefano delle Chiaie's extreme rightwing organization, 
which authored many of the most important terrorist outrages of later 
years in Italy." Some 200 cadres of the extreme Right were also sent by 
the Italian intelligence agency SID for training in the Colonels' Greece 
in 1968. 3 * Thus NATO contributed to the strengthening of both official 
and unofficial forces looking toward an authoritarian solution to politi- 
cal problems and willing to collaborate with rightwing terrorism in 
achieving that end. 

The ' 'Party of the Coup. ' ' This phrase has been used in Italy to refer to a 
loose alliance of extreme rightwing activists, intellectuals, indus- 
trialists, and military and secret services personnel who were deter- 
mined to counter the rise of the Left by seeking a "law and order" or 
fascist government. They worked toward a coup by enlisting and or- 
ganizing sympathetic persons in power for an actual coup attempt, and 
by encouraging and using strategies of terrorism and disruption to pro- 
military establishment as a form of insurance policy against investment losses. See Jan 
Black, United Stales Penetration of Brazil (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 
1977). p. 228 

36. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara testified before Congress on April9, 1962, 
that one of the great merits of U.S. military training programs was that "Each of these 
men will receive an exposure to democracy at work." Cited in Black, op. nr.. n 35. p. 
160. 

37 See Edward S Herman, The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Prop- 
aganda (Boston: South End Press, 1982), Chapter 3. 

38. Christie, op. cit.. n. 19, p. 141 

39. De Lutiis, op. cit.. n. 25, p. 191. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



79 



vide the conditions justifying the termination of democratic govern- 
ment. 

The "party" came into existence in response to the political and or- 
ganizational advance of the Left in the early 1960s, the subsequent for- 
mation of a Center-Left government in 1964, and the increasing possi- 
bility that the Communist Party itself might share in the exercise of na- 
tional political power. A landmark event in the coalescence of this 
loosely knit group was a 1965 meeting organized in Rome by the Pollio 
Institute, an independent foundation linked to the military and the Chris- 
tian Democratic government. The meeting was chaired by an active- 
duty general and the president of the Milan Court of Appeals, and was 
attended by leaders of the security forces, rightist politicians, and a 
number of individuals who later achieved notoriety as fascist terrorists 
(Stefano delle Chiaie, Mario Merlino). The dominant themes of the 
meeting were the Communist threat and the need for a global mobiliza- 
tion to counter this threat. The use of subversive and violent methods 
was openly discussed. It was proposed that organizing work be done 
among the most conservative constituencies: state functionaries, profes- 
sionals, teachers, small industrialists, etc.; that there be "pressure ac- 
tions' ' (azioni di pressione) undertaken by armed groups; and that clan- 
destine destabilizing actions be carried out. All this was to be coordi- 
nated by a top level council, 40 which continued to function for some 
years. Many of the participants in the meeting were eventually recruited 
into the secret services and played a role in later coup attempts and ter- 
rorist acts. 41 

There were numerous coup plans and at least one genuine but aborted 
attempt at a coup by the forces of the Right between 1964 and 1974. In 
1964 a plan was drawn up by General De Lorenzo (head of the 
carabinieri and SIFAR) and some 20 other senior military officials for a 
coup that would have involved the assassination of Premier Aldo Moro 
and his replacement by a rightwing Christian Democrat. This coup plan, 
code named "Plan Solo," was called off at the last moment as a result 
of a political compromise between the socialists and rightwing Christian 
Democrats. 42 A rightwing coup was actually begun in 1970, using the 

40 Franco Ferraresi, "La Destra Eversiva," in Ferraresi, ed , La desira radicate 
(Milan: Feltrinelli, 1984), pp. 57-61 

4 1 . The well-known Italian fascist Guido Giannettini attended the 1965 conference and 
subsequently worked for both the Italian and German secret services. De Lutiis, op cit , 
n. 25, pp. 95-107; Christie, op. cit.. n. 19, pp. 139-40. 

42. Christie, op. cit.. n. 19. p. 24. Plan Solo was so named because its instrumentality 



80 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



code name ' Tora, Tora' ' (although in later years it was usually referred 
to as "the Borghese coup"). Fascist leader Junio Valerio Borghese and 
Stefano delle Chiaie led an occupation of the buildings of the Ministry 
of Interior in Rome on December 7. 1970. For reasons still not clear, the 
coup was called off, and for three months the matter was hushed up by 
the Italian secret services." After the story broke, Borghese and delle 
Chiaie, forewarned as usual, were able to escape to Spain, still under 
friendly fascist rule." 

De Lorenzo was in the forefront of another effort to build for a coup 
d'etat, helping to organize a putchist group known as the "Rose of the 
Winds." His carabinieri were purged of any dissidents from hardline 
anticommunism, and a further effort was made to make all of the secret 
services into politicized, ideologically rightwing agencies. Within the 
armed forces a secret organization of anticommunist officers was estab- 
lished. At the top of this Rose of the Winds conspiracy was a group of 
87 officers representing every military and secret services branch. 
SIFAR was given the job of collecting dossiers on Italian "subver- 
sives" who were to be neutralized in a coup. This conspiracy was un- 
covered in 1974. According to one of the plotters, Roberto Cavallero, 
"when trouble erupts in the country — rioting, trade union pressure, vio- 
lence, etc. — the Organization goes into action to conjure up the option 
of a return to order. When these troubles do not erupt (of themselves), 
they are contrived by the far Right . . . directed and financed by mem- 
bers of the Organization.'"" 

It should be reiterated that De Lorenzo, a major force in organizing 
the Rose of the Winds, and a man of the extreme Right, came into 
prominence and authority as head of SIFAR, a CIA-dominated organi- 
zation. A later head of SID, the successor organization to SIFAR, Gen- 
eral Vito Miceli, was also of the extreme Right, and was a conduit for 
U.S. funds in Italy. Both De Lorenzo and Miceli, upon leaving the 
"public service," became leaders of MSI, the Italian fascist party. It is 
also worthy of note that Miceli, when acknowledging the existence of 

was solely the carabinieri, a military force controlled by De Lorenzo and. as noted, inte- 
grated into NATO De Lutiis, op cil . n. 25, p 85. 

43 At the time, it was rumored in Italy that the coup had been called off because the 
promised U S support failed to materialize. Among the documents seized after Borgh- 
ese s flight was a draft plan to send a special ambassador to the United States to ask for a 
loan and offer to send Italian troops to Vietnam Ferraresi. op. cil., n. 40, p 102 

44. De Lutiis, op. cil., n. 25. pp 103-5. 

45 Quoted in Christie, op. cil , n. 19, p. 36. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



81 



the secret Rose of the Winds conspiracy, stated to the investigating 
magistrates that the organization was established "at the request of the 
Americans and NATO . . . ""* Cavallero also claimed that the Rose of 
the Winds secret parallel group was under the direction of "Italian and 
American secret service members, as well as some agents of multina- 
tional corporations." 47 

Propaganda Due (P-2). In a scandal that broke in 198 1 , shortly after the 
attempted assassination of the Pope, Italians became aware of the im- 
mense power of P-2. In a sense, P-2 merely extended the Rose of the 
Winds conspiratorial structure beyond the military and secret services to 
the entire administrative apparatus of the Italian state. As a later official 
investigation put it, P-2 had established a "state within a state." 

The immediate effect of the scandal was the resignation of several 
cabinet ministers and high civil servants whose membership in P-2 had 
been revealed. This was quickly followed by the fall of the Forlani gov- 
ernment in June 1981. It was not until July 12, 1984, however, that the 
Italian Parliament completed its extensive investigation of P-2 and is- 
sued its 1 70-page final report. The Report of the Parliamentary Com- 
mission of Inquiry on the Masonic Lodge P-2," which went completely 
unnoticed in the U.S. mass media, describes one of the most com- 
prehensive attempts to undermine and control a western democracy 
since World War II. It reveals a far-reaching rightwing conspiracy 
which permeated the higher echelons of Italian political life, including 
all those institutions which took responsibility for creating and then in- 
vestigating the Bulgarian Connection. 

Licio Gelli, the head of P-2, was a lifelong supporter of fascist 
causes. As a youth he fought for Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and 
he served Mussolini loyally during World War II. Soon after the war, 
following disclosures that he had been involved in the torture and mur- 
der of Italian partisans, Gelli fled to Argentina. There he became inti- 
mately involved with fascists, including Jose Lopez Rega, the founder 
of the AAA Anticommunist League, whose members gained notoriety 
as torturers and executioners in the "secret war" of the early 1970s. 
Gelli remained in Argentina for 20 years before returning to Italy as an 
Argentinian consul. 

46. Ibid 

47. De Luliis, op. cit., n. 25, p 111. 

48. All quotations in this section not otherwise attributed are to this Report. 



82 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Upon his return to Italy, Gelli was initiated into Freemasonry. In 
Italy, as in many other countries, freemasonry long served as a secret, 
anti-clerical organization, generally drawing its members from the mid- 
dle class and the technocratic strata. Gelli 's sponsor recommended him 
as "someone in a position to make a notable contribution to the order in 
terms of recruitment of qualified [i.e., important] persons." In 1971 
Gelli was made organizing secretary of Loggia Propaganda, which 
henceforth was known as "the Gelli-P-2 Group." In his new role Gelli 
was permitted to initiate new members, a privilege previously permitted 
only to Venerable Grand Masters. He immediately began to recruit "a 
great number" of generals and colonels in the Italian military. At the 
same time, going against the longstanding tradition of Italian masonry 
that excluded political discussions, Gelli began to politicize P-2 lodge 
meetings. According to an agenda in the possession of the Parliamen- 
tary Commission, for example, one meeting considered "the political 
and economic situation in Italy, the threat of the Communist Party now 
in accord with clericalism aiming at the conquest of power," and "our 
position in the event of a coming to power of the clerico-communists . ' ' 

During the initial phase of Gelli's conspiracy, he recruited with an 
eye to the possibility that P-2 would have to organize political action 
against a seizure of power by the Left. For this reason he placed particu- 
lar emphasis, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, on recruiting mili- 
tary and intelligence personnel. By 1974 Gelli had recruited a total of 
195 military officers, of whom 92 held the rank of general or colonel. 
The Report of the Parliamentary Commission concluded that Gelli's re- 
cruitment of Italian military personnel constituted "a map of military 
power at the highest level with persons who often assumed a role in eve- 
nts of particular significance in the recent history of our country, as well 
as in relation with events of a subversive character." The Report also 
noted that Gelli was able to manipulate the P-2 military membership to 
advance "the political objectives of Gelli and P-2, objectives hardly 
compatible with services on behalf of democratic institutions since they 
responded to directives from centers of power extraneous, if not hostile, 
to such institutions." Gelli also "played a direct role in promotions in 
the military service," according to the Report, which claimed that "The 
penetration of P-2 into circles at the top of the military hierarchy ended 
in creating a situation in which entrance into the [P-2] lodge constituted 
a sort of obligatory passage in order to rise to higher levels of responsi- 
bility." High officers also pressured their subordinates to join P-2 if 



FOUR: THE ROME- WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



83 



they wanted to make higher rank or achieve their preferred posts. 

Gelli was equally successful in recruiting among the intelligence ser- 
vices. The Parliamentary Report points out that the heads of all three 
secret services in Italy — General Grassini of SISDE, General Santovito 
of SISMI, and Prefect Peolosi of CESIS — were members of P-2. The 
Report also states flatly that Gelli himself was a member of the Italian 
secret services. Gelli 's influence in the highest circles of Italian intelli- 
gence was similar to the role he played with the Italian military: These 
intelligence organizations and their leaders, often acting at the behest of 
Licio Gelli, were "involved with subversive groups and organizations, 
inciting and aiding them in their criminal projects" in support of Gelli's 
political objectives. 

The major shift to the left in Italy, which was marked by the elections 
of 1975 and 1976, suggested the real possibility of an eventual acces- 
sion to power of the Communist Party. This produced a fundamental 
shift in Gelli's P-2 strategy. According to the Parliamentary Commis- 
sion, where Gelli had earlier fostered destabilization, he now aimed at 
political stabilization." 9 This would be achieved through penetrating the 
highest reaches of not only the military and intelligence agencies, but 
also the top echelons of all levels of Italian life Gelli's new objective 
was to obtain a position of outright control — behind the scenes — so that 
even if the Communist Party came to power it would make no real dif- 
ference in the basic structures of Italian political life. 

With his new strategy, Gelli successfully "penetrated into the most 
important sectors of the institutions of the State. " By 1979, P-2 mem- 
bership had grown to at least 953, and the Parliamentary Report notes 
that Gelli's "new members came from the most sensitive quarters and 
highest levels of national life, . . . amounting to an extended, authorita- 
tive, and capillary apparatus of persons which Gelli, in his capacity as 
Venerable Master of P-2, could dispose at will." P-2 membership rolls 
included three cabinet ministers; 43 generals; eight admirals, including 
the head of the armed forces; the heads of the three intelligence services; 
43 Military Policemen; the police chiefs of Italy's four main cities; the 
mayors of Brescia and Pavia; the editor of Italy's leading newspaper, 

49 The Parliamentary Commission implied thai the shift in strategy was more complete 
than it was in fact. A new two-track strategy is more plausible and more compatible with 
subsequent events. It is noteworthy, for example, that a December 1985 Bologna court in- 
dictment named Gelli as one of the organizers of the Bologna bombing of 1980. 



84 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the Corriere delta Sera; 36 members of Parliament and members of 
numerous state agencies." The number of P-2 members in the state ad- 
ministration totalled 422. Especially important in the view of the Par- 
liamentary Commission was P-2 infiltration into the Italian Treasury 
and those institutions involved in foreign trade. P-2 also penetrated the 
prestigious Bank of Italy, an institution with important overseas connec- 
tions." 

The "silent coup" also targeted Italy's mass media. One of Gelli's 
most important successes was the takeover of the Rizzoli publishing 
group. Rizzoli controlled the leading Italian newspaper, the Corriere 
delta Sera of Milan," whose daily sales of 500,000 were the highest in 
all Italy. At its zenith the Rizzoli publishing group was printing one in 
four Italian newspapers. The Gelli-P-2 Group also acquired control or 
important influence over many local newspapers, including // Mattino, 
Sport Sud, II Piccolo, Eco di Padova, II Giornale di Sicilia, Alto Adige, 
and // Lavoro. Gelli and P-2 used this influence within the media, ac- 
cording to the Parliamentary Report, for the "coordination of the entire 
provincial and local press, so as to control public opinion throughout the 
country." 

Gelli's influence over the Corriere delta Sera and other newspapers, 
his intimate ties with the Italian secret services, and his influence in al- 
most every major Italian institution, revealed "the general line of an 
alarming, comprehensive plan for the penetration and conditioning of 
national life." 

50 . A partial list of P-2 membership i n (he Iralian slate sector i n 1 979 i s as follows: In- 
terior Ministry: 19 members; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 4; Ministry of Public Works: 4; 
Ministry of Public Instruction: 32; Ministry of State: 2 1 ; Treasury: 67; Ministry of Health: 
3; Ministry of Industry and Commerce: 1 3; Finance Ministry: 52; Ministry of Justice, in- 
cluding Magistratura: 2 1 ; Ministry of Cultural Affairs: 4; Ministry of Scientific and Tech- 
nological Research: 3; Ministry of Transportation: 2. 

5 1 . Other major banks targeted for the establishment of strategic P-2 contacts in the in- 
ternational banking and business community were the Banca Nacionale del Lavoro, the 
Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the Banca Toscana. the Istituto Centrale delle casse rurali et 
artigiani, the Interbanca. the Banca di Roma, and the Banco Ambrosiano. 

52. Corriere delta Sera had fallen under the control of Banco Ambrosiano, whose pres- 
ident, Roberto Calvi, was a P-2 member and major financier of P-2 projects. Upon P-2's 
acquisition of the Corriere, its editor, Piero Ottone, a thorn in the side of both the 
Socialist and Christian Democratic Parties in Italy for many years, was replaced by his 
deputy, Franco Di Bella. When the P-2 house of cards fell in 1981, the records showed 
that Di Bella had been a member of the P-2 lodge since October 10, 1978. Calvi, of 
course, was the leading figure in the Vatican banking scandal of the late 1970s, and mil- 
lions of dollars passed through his hands to rightwing dictators in Latin America. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



85 



As for the "Bulgarian Connection," would the members of the an- 
ticommunist brotherhood of P-2 be capable of concocting a case against 
the arch-enemy that would involve falsifying evidence? Were they in a 
position to do this by their reach into the police, secret services, the 
press, the judiciary, political parties, and the state apparatus? These 
questions were not explored in the western media; the quality of the Ital- 
ian police-security establishment, with its deep roots in Italian fascist 
history, is off the western agenda. 

The "Strategy of Tension" . The "strategy of tension" was a right wing 
creation, put into extensive practice beginning in the late 1 960s by the 
"party of the coup." 51 The strategy was based on the idea that terrorist 
acts, if carried out by secret agents in a political environment where the 
acts would be attributed to the Left, would be serviceable to right wing 
and fascist ends. The point was to make people very apprehensive and 
insecure, to put them in a mood to support a regime of law and order. 
This would be facilitated if the police, courts, and press regularly failed 
to identify correctly the perpetrators of violence, and allowed them- 
selves to be manipulated into false attributions of its source. 

Many of the proponents and implementers of the strategy were open 
fascists, aiming explicitly for a totalitarian solution. (The journalist 
Guido Giannettini, for example, who was employed by the Italian secret 
services, called himself a "nazi-fascist," not just a plain fascist. 54 ) 
Mussolini's coup of 1922 and the Greek fascist takeover of 1967 were 
models for this "party ." The Parliamentary Report on P-2 comments: 

P-2 contributed to the so-called strategy of tension, that was pursued by right- 
wing extremist groups in Italy during those years when the purpose was to de- 
stabilize Italian politics, creating a situation that such groups might be able to ex- 

53. The expression "strategy of tension" has been widely used in the Italian media to 
describe the attempt by right wing forces to stop the leftward trend in Italian politics by the 
use of force. While there is little dispute about the reality of the actions carried out in sup- 
port of this political objective, there is debate over the degree of explicit planning and or- 
ganization of the whole process, and the exact composition of the forces involved. P-2 
contributed to a centralizing tendency in the implementation of the strategy, but much of it 
seems to have been informal and loosely coordinated 

54 Christie, op cil.. n. 19, p vii. Giannettini was greatly appreciated by the U S mil- 
itary establishment. In November 1961 he was brought to the United States to conduct a 
three-day seminar on "The Techniques and Prospects of a Coup d'Etat in Europe" at the 
U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Christie, ibid., p. 26; De Lutiis, op cil., 
n. 25, p. 164. 



86 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ploit in their own interest to bring about an authoritarian solution to Italy's prob- 
lems ... to condition political and public opinion that changes were demanded 
and radical solutions possible . . . with the overthrow of the democratic repub- 
lic a real alternative among various possible outcomes. 

The strategy of tension was implemented through a series of mas- 
sacres, frameups, and abortive coup attempts. Prior to 1969 there had 
been numerous fascist attacks on Communists, unionists, and demon- 
strators, but no major terrorist attacks. The new strategy of massacre 
began in April 1969 with bomb explosions at the University of Padua 
and a Milan industrial fair. On August 8, 1 969, bombs were placed in 
ten trains moving out of major stations, injuring ten people. Then in 
Milan on December 12, 1969, a bomb was placed in a bank on market 
day in the crowded Piazza Fontana. Sixteen people died and 90 more 
were injured. A bomb placed in another bank in the center of Milan was 
discovered before it could go off. Three bombs were set off in Rome, 
one of which injured 13 people. Subsequently, there were other mas- 
sacres by the instruments of the party of the coup: The most notorious 
and "productive" were the December 17, 1973 rocket attack on a Pan 
Am plane at Rome's Fiumicano airport, killing 32; the May 28, 1974 
bombing at an antifascist rally in Brescia, killing eight and injuring 102; 
the August 4, 1974 bombing of the Rome-Munich Italicus train near 
Bologna, killing 1 2 and injuring 48; and the Bologna station bombing of 
August 2, 1980, which left 85 dead and 200 injured. 

The evidence is overwhelming that these terrorist acts were carried 
out by fascists in collusion with members of the security services." But 

55. I( is a cliche of (he U.S. Right, uncontested in the Unitad States, that Italian ter- 
rorism is a predominantly leftwing phenomenon. This is based on major fabrications A 
favorite author cited by the U.S. Right to authenticate their position is Dr. Vittorfranco S. 
Pisano, whose study, "Terrorism and Security: The Italian Experience," was published 
as a Report of the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism in November 1984 
Pisano states that neofascist terror is not even a close runner-up to Red terror in Italy 
Among other reasons for this is the alleged fact that "the terrorist right lacks the suppor- 
tive structure available to its leftist counterpart" (p. 35). This chapter demonstrates that 
Pisano's assertion is a fabrication: The "terrorist right" in Italy has had the support not 
only of P-2. with its extensive institutional ramifications, but also the Italian intelligence 
services, carabinieri, and officers of the regular armed forces, who are in turn linked in 
various supportive ways to the CIA and NATO (see below). 

It is also interesting that Pisano carefully avoids breaking down terrorist incidents in 
Italy by allocation to the Left and Right. He does give an appendix table showing terrorist 
incidents by year, 1 968-82 (p. 63). The grand total of deaths by terror shown on his 
table is 334. The terrorist deaths allocable to neofascists based on the incidents mentioned 
on this page alone, which hardly exhausts the neofascist total, amounts to 151 or 45% of 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



87 



in accordance with the logic of the strategy of tension, they were blamed 
on the Left. The Piazza Fontana bombing, for example, was im- 
mediately blamed on the anarchists, a diverse and weak group that was 
an easy victim of a well-managed conspiracy of the Right. The police, 
secret services, judiciary, and press all played their roles in this frameup. 
The local anarchist leader Giuseppi Pinelli died in police custody, an al- 
leged "suicide." Although the evidence was soon clear that the Piazza 
Fontana bombing was a rightist strategy of tension action, 56 it has never 
been possible to bring the perpetrators (or the police who murdered 
Pinelli) to justice. 

The main reason for this is that the strategy of tension was im- 
plemented and protected by important elements of the state apparatus. 
Franco Ferraresi points out, for example, that in a judicial investigation 
at Arezzo of the Italicus bombing, it was disclosed that "some fascists" 
among the accused actually worked for the police or secret services. It 
was also disclosed that they received valuable information on the prog- 
ress of the investigation being carried out against them, and that Gelli 
had connections with key officials in the repressive apparatus of 
Arezzo." Ferraresi adds that "Not by chance, in the course of the inves- 
tigation the accused [spoke] repeatedly of the links between SID, the P- 
2 lodge, MSI [the Italian neofascist party], and elements of the Right in 
Arezzo." 5 ' 



The Italian Intelligence Services and Rightwing Terrorism 



Given the importance of the Italian secret services in the development 
of the Bulgarian Connection case, and the assertions by Albano and 
Martella that these services were apolitical and quite trustworthy, 59 it 

[he grand total. If we added in other clearly neofascist killings, we would well exceed half 
the total deaths by terrorism. It is clear why Pisano fails to make any count by political 
class of terrorist. 

56. See Christie, op. cil., n. 19. pp. 61-63, and the text below. 

57. Gelli's connections included "magistrates (one of whom, the Attorney Marsili, was 
his son-in-law), an assistant chief of police and the leader of the CC [carabinien], not to 
mention the national leadership of SID which was partly involved also (Gen. Miceli) in 
the Borghese affair . and in the Rose of the Winds plan." Ferraresi, op. cil., n 40, p. 
107. 

58. Ibid. 

59. See especially the remark of Albano cited in Chapter 7, p. 191; also the discussion 
of Martella's views in Chapter 5, pp. 1 17-18. 



88 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



may be useful to provide further and more detailed evidence of the secu- 
rity services' involvement in rightwing terrorism. In this connection, we 
should note first the virtual unanimity of informed Italian opinion of the 
generality of such involvement. Luciano Violante, a member of the Ital- 
ian Parliament and former Magistrate of the Court of Turin, has stated 
that "One cannot say that there has been a single important episode of 
black [i.e., rightwing] terrorism that does not involve in some way or 
another men who are either directly or indirectly connected to the ser- 
vices. " 60 Stefano Rodota, also a member of Parliament and Professor of 
Law at the University of Rome, has said the same thing: "Traces, some 
heavy, some light, of direct actions or of involvement of the services are 
evident in all the judicial decisions that relate to the more serious acts of 
terrorism (especially black): the massacre of the Piazza Fontana; of the 
Piazza Delia Loggia; of the Italicus train; of the Bologna station; the 
Rose of Winds affair; the Borghese coup." 6 ' As noted above, the 
Arezzo investigations revealed that a number of the suspects worked for 
the carabinieri, police, and secret services. An internal document of the 
intelligence agency SID indicates that Stefano delle Chiaie himself — 
mastermind of the Bologna bombing and an associate of Klaus Barbie — 
was "an informer of the Rome central police" with contacts also in the 
Ministry of Interior. 62 

Experts on Italian terrorism have also noted the frequent failure of the 
security services to disclose or do anything about advance knowledge of 
terrorist actions. From the beginning of the implementation of the strat- 
egy of tension in the late 1960s, the secret services successfully infil- 
trated both right and left groups that were later accused of crimes, but 
failed to prevent any terrorist acts. According to Giovanni Tamburino, 
Magistrate of Padua and a member of the Superior Council of Magis- 
trates, "Those close to the victims of the massacre which occurred on 
August 2, 1980 in the station in Bologna lamented the fact that the ser- 
vices, despite having prior warning of the disaster, did not act on this 
knowledge, nor did they pass the information on to the magistrate after 
the massacre had taken place." 63 

60. Luciano Violante, "Politica delta sicurezza, relazioni internationali e terrorismo," 
in Gianfranco Pasquino, ed . La prova Delle Armi (Istituto Cattaneo, Bologna: Societa 
Editrice II Mulino. 1984), p 100. 

61. Stefano Rodota, "La riposta dello stato al terrorismo: gli apparati," in Pasquino, 
ed., op. cit., n. 60, p. 82. 

62. Linklater, el al., op. cit., n. 12, p. 207. 

63 Giovanni Tamburino, "Le stragi e il loro contesto," in Paolo Corsini and Laura 
Novati, eds , L'Eversione Nera: Cronache Di Un Decennio. 1974-1984 (Milan: Franco 
Angeli, 1985), p. 142. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



89 



A related feature of secret services involvement in rightwing ter- 
rorism has been their protection of the terrorists and refusal to cooper- 
ate with the judicial system. Five days after the Piazza Fontana bomb- 
ing, for example, SID circulated a note to its branch offices stating flatly 
that delle Chiaie had organized the attack, and that his man Mario Mer- 
lino, who had infiltrated the anarchists, had actually planted the bomb. 
But SID failed to pass this information on to the magistrates in charge of 
the case. 6 * A powerful statement of the same point was made by Rosario 
Minna, Magistrate of the Court of Florence, in a recent volume on ter- 
rorism in Italy. According to Minna: 63 

The classic example ... of a web which indissolubly links together both the 
bottom and the top of the Italian power structure in its relations with black ter- 
rorism concerns the help given by the Italian secret services to the accused in the 
trial for the massacre of Piazza Fontana. Giannettini was helped Financially 
when he escaped abroad; worse still, after the Magistrate of Milan had requested 
the arrest of Pozzan, ... the Italian services took Pozzan to Spain, where they 
handed him over to delle Chiaie in Madrid, at a time when delle Chiaie himself 
was a fugitive from justice, wanted for the very same massacre of Piazza Fon- 
tana. So far, there has been no news of administrative or political sanctions 
against those officials who betrayed the state by these critical actions. There- 
fore, it is practically impossible that it was a matter of personal and improvised 
initiative on the part of a captain or general. 

The network protecting terrorists in Italy extended far. In the Italicus 
case, the neofascist party MSI actually funded the terrorist killers. Ad- 
miral Birindelli, a past president of MSI, 66 apparently not liking this 
support of deadly terrorist actions, reported the MSI role to the 
carabinieri within several weeks of the massacre. This important infor- 
mation took seven years to reach the magistrates in charge of the case. 67 
In attempting to understand why this delay occurred, we need only re- 
call that the carabinieri as well as the secret services were heavily infil- 
trated by P-2, and the head of the carabinieri to whom Birindelli gave 
his information was a P-2 member. 

64. Linklaler, et at., op. cit., n. 12, p. 207. 

65. Rosario Minna, "II terrorismo di deslra," in Donatella della Porta, ed.. Terrorism! 
in Italia (Islituto Cattaneo, Bologna: Societa Edilrice II Mulino, 1984). p. 57. 

66. And also a former Mediterranean NATO commander 

67. Ferraresi, op cit., n. 40, p 107 



90 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Stefano delle Chiaie was a principal in many major terrorist attacks in 
Italy between 1969 and 1980. He is almost certainly responsible for 
more deaths by violence than Carlos the Jackal. We have seen, how- 
ever, that delle Chiaie attended the Pollia Institute Conference of 1965, 
was an informer for the Italian police, and was used by the secret ser- 
vices as a friendly vehicle to help spirit wanted criminals out of the 
country. Delle Chiaie also had ties with Federico D' Amato, the head of 
the Italian internal security service SISDE. 6 " It is frequently pointed out 
in Italy that delle Chiaie has a charmed life. In 1984 the new head of 
SISDE, Vicente Parisi, updated the Italian Parliament on the Bologna 
massacre. Journalist Maurizio De Luca summarizes his remarks as fol- 
lows: 6 * 

He spoke inevitably about delle Chiaie, and the nearly legendary impossibility 
of capturing him. It is known that delle Chiaie has traveled, and still does, in 
South and Central America quite undisturbed. Parisi explicitly said that the fas- 
cist leader is evidently given great protection First of all by the South American 
secret services. This implies that somebody else, more powerful, allows this 
protection. Who? Somebody asked Parisi openly, is it a superpower? In other 
words, are there American interests protecting delle Chiaie? Parisi, expressing 
himself very cautiously, seemed to imply so. He pointed out that the American 
secret service had given very inadequate help to their Italian counterparts in at- 
tempting to capture delle Chiaie. Given this situation, the committee overseeing 
the secret services decided to write to Craxi to take an official stand toward the 
nations who protect delle Chiaie, starting with the South American nations. 

This interesting exchange was not reported in the mainstream U. S. 
press. Martin Lee and Kevin Coogan point out that the U.S. Customs 
Service was apparently aware of the fact that delle Chiaie had entered 
Miami on a plane from South America on September 9, 1982, traveling 
with Abdullah Catli, a leader of the Gray Wolves and friend of Agca.™ 
He was not apprehended, and the Italian government was not informed 
of his whereabouts. 

If Carlos the Jackal could be shown to be an informer for the Bulgar- 
ians or KGB, used by them as an intermediary and in other business re- 
lations, and allowed to move about freely in their territory and client 

68. De Lutiis, op. cit., n. 25, pp. 98-100. 

69. "Operazione Primula Nera," L'Espresso, August 5, 1984. 

70. Quoted in Martin A. Lee and Kevin Coogan, "The Agca Con," Village Voice, De- 
cember 24, 1985. Pazienza told Lee and Coogan that customs officers informed him that 
"delle Chiaie enters and leaves the United States as he likes." 



FOUR: THE ROME- WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



91 



states, politicians and press in the West would shriek with indignation 
and pound tables over eastern Bloc "support of terrorists." Delle 
Chiaie, however, has been a "strategy of tension" activist and a sub 
rosa western "asset." The West accommodates well to his differences 
from Carlos." 



Corruption Unlimited: SISMI, Pazienza, and Company 



The abuses of the secret services recounted above had deep structural 
roots in Italian society and in the American-NATO connection, and they 
continued into the period of the genesis and implementation of the Bul- 
garian Connection. On July 29, 1985, the Criminal Court of Rome is- 
sued a 184-page report and "Sentenza" (hereafter. Judgment) against 
Francesco Pazienza, Pietro Musumeci, Giuseppi Belmonte, and others 
for crimes committed while serving as high officials and agents of 
SISMI." They were found guilty of embezzlement and corruption, but 
many of their crimes have larger implications and bear on the Bulgarian 
Connection case. They show an intelligence service out of control, car- 
rying out fraudulent and illegal acts, and manipulated for personal and 
political purposes. 

Among the crimes enumerated in the Judgment, we may note the fol- 
lowing: 

7 1 . British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher illustrates well the western pattern or dis- 
crimination and hypocrisy. Speaking before the American Bar Association in July 1985, 
Mrs. Thatcher stated that "We need action — action to which all countries are committed 
until the terrorist knows that he has no haven and no escape." Two weeks earlier, Mrs. 
Thatcher had ignored an impassioned plea from Prime Minister Craxi for heraid in obtain- 
ing the deportation of Italian rightwing terrorists, who had found a safe haven in England. 
The particular case arousing Craxi's ire involved Roberto Fiore, a leading member of the 
Armed Revolutionary Nuclei, convicted in 1984 of subversive conspiracy, attempted 
murder, armed robbery, and six counts of arson. The Home Office has rejected Italian ap- 
peals for Fiore's extradition on the ground that European Community Law requires that it 
be shown "that his personal conduct was such as to constitute a present threat to one of the 
fundamental interests of society." Apparently a rightwing terrorist does not meet this 
standard by his terrorist record alone. Are we to presume that Carlos would also be safe in 
England on this ground? See Mark Hollingsworth, "Fascist prosecutes journalist," New 
Statesman, November 15, 1985, p. 5 

72. Criminal Court of Rome, Judgment in the Matter of Francesco Pazienza, et at. , 
July 29, 1985, signed by Francesco Amato, President of the Court. 



92 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Forgery. Pazienza arranged for Che forgery of a document carrying the 
signatures of Licio Gelli and others, which was planted in the May 8, 
1981 issue of Agenzia RepubblicaP He either forged or passed along 
fraudulent papers supposedly showing that the then President of Italy, 
Pertini, had been on the Soviet payroll!" Articles secretly subsidized by 
SISMI smearing various other individuals were planted in the press. 75 
One forgery described in the Judgment was of "Letters of Information" 
about terrorist plans, allegedly obtained from a secret source that was 
paid a large sum of money for the information. The court concluded that 
the Letters were fabricated and the source did not exist, and that the pur- 
pose of the entire process was to allow Musumeci, Belmonte, and San- 
tovito to divert large sums to their own pockets. 76 

Political manipulation. Pazienza attempted to split the Communist 
Party by supporting a hard line pro-Soviet faction within the PCI. He 
engaged in this effort as an agent of SISMI, although he sought external 
(mainly American) financing to advance the project. 77 Santovito ac- 
knowledged to a Parliamentary Commission on P-2 that SISMI had 
worked hard to try to pin some link to the Bulgarians on the PCI. 78 
Numerous other efforts to enhance or denigrate favored or disfavored 
politicians, movements, or countries are recounted in the Judgment. 
(One of them, the "Billygate Affair," we discuss below.) 

Improper dealings with terrorists. The Judgment describes in detail how, 
after the Red Brigades had kidnapped the Christian Qemocratic politi- 
cian Ciro Cirillo, Pazienza used his contacts with the Mafia to negotiate 
a deal that was extremely generous to both the Mafia intermediaries and 
the Red Brigades. The Court felt that the mode of dealing with the ter- 
rorists was highly inappropriate, and that in this kind of operation 
Pazienza was doing things "of incredible danger to society. . . .""The 
Court concluded that "An operation which began as an attempt 

73. Ibid., p. 102. 

74. Ibid., p. 103. 

75. Ibid., pp 99-102. 

76. Ibid., pp. 1 19-73. Bruno Di Murro declared tothe court that the "Pazienza group" 
took sums amounting to about one billion two hundred million lire from the coffers of 
SISMI between October 1980 and May 1981. Ibid., p. 169. 

77. Ibid., p. 108 

78. Italian Parliamentary Committee of Investigation into the P-2 Masonic Lodge, 
Documentation Vol. 3, Tome XIX, March 2, 1982, p. 202. 

79. Judgment, p. 26 



FOUR: THE ROME- WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



93 



to find the kidnapped man and lo single out his captors . . . turned into 
an operation characterized by the payment of a very heavy ransom to a 
terroristic group which would take advantage of it to carry on further 
their aggression against the state." 80 

Protection of criminals and terrorists. The Court charged Pazienza with 
using a SISMI plane to transport a man wanted for crimes out of the 
country. 81 SISMI officials were also charged with giving investigating 
bodies information which they knew to be untrue about terrorists al- 
legedly involved in the Bologna bombing, thereby diverting the investi- 
gation away from the real terrorists. 82 

In early December 1985, magistrates in Bologna issued 16 arrest war- 
rants, accusing both Licio Gelli and former SISMI officials Pazienza, 
Belmonte, and Musumeci of "subversive association with the aim of 
terrorism" in connection with the Bologna bombing of 1980. Initial 
newspaper reports indicate that the secret service officials were being 
charged not merely with covering up the massacre, but with involve- 
ment in its overall planning. 83 

Disinformation. In early 1981, from information provided by Pazienza 
and an "external collaborator," two reports were prepared by SISMI 
tying the drug and arms traffic to Arabs and Bulgaria. The Judgment im- 
plies that these reports were fabricated, intended to divert attention 
away from SISMI's ongoing abuses by providing evidence of energetic 
secret service activity. It is possible that the "external collaborator" in 
this case was Michael Ledeen (see below). It is also noteworthy that the 
Bulgarians are already being introduced as villains in these pre-May 13, 
1981 reports. 

The Ledeen-Pazienza Connection. The Judgment devotes considerable 
space to the coordinated operations of Pazienza and Michael Ledeen. 
Pazienza was an operator of international scope, with significant re- 
lationships and mutual service extending especially to France and the 
United States. The Judgment alleges that Pazienza was on the payroll of 
the French secret services. 84 (It was well-known that he was a close 

80. Ibid , p. 18. 

81. Ibid., p. 25. 

82. Ibid., pp. 147-68. 

83. See the series of articles in La Repubblica, December 12-13, 1985. 

84. "From a reading of the quoted documents one can deduce the superior position that 



94 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



friend of its head, Comte Alexandre de Marenches.) He had also estab- 
lished a relationship with Alexander Haig, which added to his authority 
in Italy (see further below). 

Pazienza was also a good friend of Licio Gelli, and provided his pri- 
vate yacht to help Gelli flee after his escape from prison. He was also a 
close associate of Roberto Calvi, the murdered head of Banco Am- 
brosiano. Before his death Calvi had swindled more than a billion dol- 
lars through a complex chain of bank transactions that deeply involved 
P-2 and the Vatican Bank. Pazienza helped Calvi try to extricate himself 
from his difficulties, then to take refuge as the Banco Ambrosiano crisis 
reached its peak. He also introduced Calvi to Flavio Carboni, the last 
man known to have seen Calvi alive. 85 

At the time of Agca's assassination attempt, SISMI was headed by 
General Giuseppe Santovito, a P-2 member and Pazienza's patron. Dur- 
ing Santovito's tenure Pazienza was a SISMI operative with extraordi- 
nary powers. In fact, the Judgment suggests that Pazienza even con- 
trolled Santovito. 86 Pazienza was not only Santovito's top aide, he was 
also the dominant individual in a small group of secret service "plumb- 
ers" called "Super S," made up of P-2 members, which used the re- 
sources of SISMI, and was answerable only to Santovito. 87 

Michael Ledeen enters the picture as a rightwing journalist, longtime 
associate of Claire Sterling, 88 friend of Alexander Haig, and the "Italy 
expert" in the Reagan transition team of 1 980-8 1. 8 * In tandem with 
Pazienza, Ledeen was well placed to help forward Reagan's political 
aims in Italy at the time of the assassination attempt against the Pope. At 
least as early as 1980 Ledeen became a friend of and collaborator with 
Pazienza. Perhaps through Pazienza's influence Ledeen worked for 

Pazienza — already on the payroll of the French secret military service and connected with 
centers of foreign powers [the U.S. State Department is mentioned specifically] — had 
managed to acquire in the security organization." Judgment, p. 37. 

85. On Pazienza and Calvi, see Rupert Comwell, God's Banker (New York: Dodd, 
Mead, 1984). 

86 Judgment, pp 30-33. 

87 Ibid., pp. 34-40. Valuable details are also given in Sandro Acciari and Pietro 
Calderoni. "C'ero io, c'era Pazienza, c'era . . . ," L' Espresso, November 1 1 , 1984; and 
Diana Johnstone, "Latest scandal leads to Reagan administration," InTheseTimes, De- 
cember 5-1 I, 1984. 

88 See Chapter 6, p. 160 

89 During the early years of the Reagan administration he was also a consultant to the 
State Department and Pentagon "Italian Officials Finger Ledeen, CIA," CoveriAction 
Information Bulletin, Number 22 (Fall 1984), p. 41. 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



95 



SISMI and was placed on its payroll. 90 He had the coded identification, 
Z-3." Ledeen received at least $120,000 plus expenses from SISMI in 
1980-81 , some of which he funneled into a Bermuda bank account." 2 He 
received the money for various services: what he vaguely calls "risk as- 
sessment," helping train Italian intelligence agents, 93 and providing 
analyses of terrorism and the Soviet threat. The Italian press reported 
that Ledeen actually sold old U.S. intelligence reports to SISMI at stiff 
prices, which Santovito then passed on to Italian officials as the prod- 
ucts of secret and original SISMI investigations. According to Diana 
Johnstone, Italian journalists to whom these secret reports were leaked 
were not fooled, and "found them an unconvincing rehash of old gos- 
sip, such as the notion that the Italian Communist Party was really run 
by a secret 'parallel' hierarchy commanded by Moscow." 94 The docu- 
ments did further the echo-chamber effect, however, providing Italian 
intelligence service "confirmation" of the truths that U.S. disinfor- 
mationists were purveying widely. 

An important collaboration between Ledeen and Pazienza involved 
the so-called "Billygate" affair. Italian investigators had already shown 
that SISMI, Pazienza, and Michael Ledeen, working through Super S, 
lured President Jimmy Carter's brother Billy into a compromising re- 
lationship with Qaddafi during the 1980 presidential campaign. Accord- 
ing to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, prosecuting Judge 
Domenico Sica had evidence "that SISMI was the architect of the scan- 
dal over Billy Carter," and that the material in the case "was gathered 
mostly by Pazienza and by his American friend Michael Ledeen." The 
indictment against Pazienza explicitly mentioned Michael Ladeen as a 
co-conspirator in the illegal activities attributed to Pazienza. La Repub- 
blica went on to say: 95 

Pazienza availed himself of SISMI both for the use of some secret agents and for 

90. This point was confirmed by Santovito, the head of SISMI. Judgment, p 1 10. 

91. Ibid., p. 39 

92 Jonathan Kwilny, "Tale of Intrigue: Why an Italian Spy Got Closely Involved In 
the Billygate Affair," Wail Street Journal, August 8, 1985 

93 The Judgment describes an "Operation Training Camps," in which Ledeen re- 
ceived 300 million lire for organizing training camps on antiguerrilla-anticommunist war- 
fare. Pazienza claimed that part of the sum was his. but Ledeen kept the entire amount for 
himself. Judgment, p. 109 

94. Diana Johnstone, "A method to Agca's madness?," In These Times, July 10-23, 
1985. 

95. Quoted in Johnstone, ibid 



96 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the expenses of organizing the scandalous plan. It seems that the organizers got 
a huge payoff for "Billygate." Moreover, Santovito and Pazienza got great ad- 
vantages in return from American officials, in fact may have been helped in 
other obscure affairs. The "Billygate" operation did not come under SlSMI's 
institutionally mandated task, and for that reason Judge Sica brought charges of 
pursuing private interest through official activities. 

SISMI provided the tape recorder and hired a photographer to take pic- 
tures of Billy Carter with a Libyan representative.'* As the enterprise 
was strictly in aid of Reagan's election campaign, the Court did not con- 
sider this a proper use of Italian secret service resources. 

After Reagan's election Ledeen and his friend Pazienza became more 
powerful in Italy. Umberto D'Amato, a high police official in Italy, 
claims that in the uncertain conditions prevailing during the Reagan 
transition, "there was an interregnum during which relations between 
Italy and the United States were carried on in the persons of the duo 
Pazienza-Ledeen.'"" The influential position of the Ledeen-Pazienza 
team is suggested by their role as intermediaries between Italian politi- 
cians and high officials wanting to make contact with officials of the 
new Reagan administration. Even the Italian Foreign Minister Emilio 
Colombo used their services in making arrangements for a visit. The 
head of the Christian Democratic Party, Flaminio Piccoli, testified be- 
fore a Parliamentary Committee that during a visit to Washington, after 
several days of futile attempts to visit Secretary of State Haig, General 
Santovito suggested that he seek out Pazienza. Jonathan Kwitny reports 
that "Mr. Piccoli testified that one phone call from Mr. Pazienza to a 
contact persuaded Mr. Haig to postpone a trip to Camp David to help 
President Reagan with a major speech, and grant Mr. Piccoli a 43- 
minute meeting." 98 

In August 1981, following the P-2 scandal of the previous spring, 
General Santovito was dismissed as head of SISMI, and Pazienza's role 
in SISMI was greatly reduced. Pazienza claims that he resigned from 
SISMI in March 1981, more than a month before the attack on the 
Pope.** He also alleges that the successor to Santovito, General Nino 

96. Judgment, pp. 81-86. 

97. Quoted in Sandro Acciari and Pietro Calderoni, "C'ero io, c"era Pazienza. Cera 
. . ." L'Espresso, November II, 1984. 

98. Jonathan Kwilny, "Tales of Intrigue: How an Italian Ex-Spy Who Also Helped 
U.S. Landed in Prison Here," Wall Street Journal. August 7, 1985. For corroborating 
evidence of this account, see Judgment, p. 86. 

99. The P-2 scandal originated in the discovery of Gelli's list of secret members of P-2 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



97 



Lugaresi, and other members of SISMI, were the ones who actually 
coached Agca. According to Pazienza, Michael Ledeen had worked 
with Col. Sportelli and the SISMI chief of station in New York, Col. 
Marcello Campione, both of whom remained after the departure of San- 
tovito. Pazienza claims that not only did the successor team coach 
Agca, they also collaborated with Ledeen in questioning the former 
Czech General and disinformationist Jan Sejna, whose fabrications were 
channeled from Ledeen to Claire Sterling. 100 

Thus, there was no general housecleaning of SISMI, and there is no 
reason to believe that the fundamental character of SISMI was altered. 
In fact, several of the remaining SISMI officials were subsequently ar- 
rested for involvement in the drug trade. Furthermore, while Pazienza 
has attempted to shift some of the accusations against SISMI and him- 
self to his former colleagues and successors, his own role in the Bulga- 
rian Connection is still far from clear. Soon after his exit from SISMI, 
Pazienza and former high SISMI official Pietro Musumeci organized a 
security consulting firm, which was quickly employed by Roberto Calvi 
and his Banco Ambrosiano. Pazienza then became very active in help- 
ing Calvi manage the bank's investments in and contacts with the Italian 
political parties. This gave him fresh resources, including closer rela- 
tions with Socialist Party head Bettino Craxi, who visited Pazienza at 
the latter's house. Craxi's Socialist Party had been heavily financed by 
illegal contributions from Calvi's bank from 1975, and Craxi had been 
Calvi 's stout defender when Banco Ambrosiano' s misdeeds began to be 
uncovered in the late 1970s. 101 

Pazienza' s Mafia ties were also important. Following the kidnapping 
of the Christian Democratic official Ciro Cirillo by the Red Brigades in 
1981, Pazienza was brought in by the police to negotiate for Cirillo's 
ransom. Pazienza was able to negotiate Cirillo's release through his 
contacts with Raeffele Cutolo, the leader of the Naples Camorra 
(Mafia). According to the June 16, 1985 statement of former Cutolo as- 

in a police raid of March 17, 1981 It is possible (hat pressure on P-2 members and their 
close associates began shortly after that date, although Santovito did not leave SISMI until 
August 1981. 

Pazienza's claims were spelled out in a letter from him to Christian Roulette, which was 
introduced by Roulette into the trial record in January 1986 The contents of the letter are 
summarized by Diana Johnstone in "Bulgarian Connection: Finger-pointing in the pontiff 
plot labyrinth," In These Times, January 29-February 4, 1986. 

100. See Chapter 6, pp 135-36 

101 Comwell, op cil., n. 85, pp. 114. 141 



98 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



sociate Giovanni Pandico, 102 when Cutolo was threatened with a transfer 
out of Ascoli Piceno prison in 1982 — with the implication that Cutolo 
might be killed during the transfer — Cutolo contacted Pazienza and 
Musumeci to help extricate him from his fix. Pandico claimed that 
Musumeci visited Ascoli Piceno prison in late February or early March 
1982, 103 and struck a deal: Cutolo would stay in Ascoli Piceno, but he 
would help persuade Agca to implicate the Bulgarians and Soviets in the 
plot to assassinate the Pope. 



Ledeen, Pazienza, SISMI, and the Bulgarian Connection 



As we have seen, recent investigations of the Italian secret services in 
general, and SISMI and the Ledeen-Pazienza-SISMI connection in par- 
ticular, have uncovered a wide variety of suggestive facts and relation- 
ships that bear on the emergence of the Bulgarian Connection. First, it is 
clear that SISMI and other Italian intelligence agencies have long been 
infiltrated and even dominated by P-2 members and the extreme Right. 
These groups have been associated for many years with attempts to sub- 
vert Italian democracy, to weaken and destroy the Left by means of a 
"strategy of tension," and, if need be, to organize a coup to install a 
government of law and order. It is apparent that agencies like SISMI 
have been thoroughly politicized and have spent considerable effort pur- 
suing covert political strategies. 

Second, there is substantial evidence that SISMI had little scruple in 
serving up forged documents, disseminating them, and planting them on 
its political enemies. On May 19, 1981, only six days after the assassi- 
nation attempt on the Pope, SISMI circulated a secret report within the 
government claiming that the shooting of the Pope had been decided 
upon and announced at a meeting of Warsaw Pact military leaders in 
Rumania by Soviet Minister of Defense Marshal Ustinov in November 
1980. This fabricated document is now part of the evidence in the case 
against Pazienza and others and has been impounded by the Italian 
courts.' 04 An associate of Pazienza' s, Francesco Mazzola, then Italian 

102. Pietro Calderoni, "Cella con Servizi," L'Espresso, June 23, 1985. This was 
based on an exclusive interview with Pandico. 

103. Pandico told Calderoni the visit took place on March 1 , but in his trial testimony 
Pandico changed this to sometime in February. 

104 See discussion and citations in Report of the International Commission of Study 
and Information on "The Antonov Affair" (Brussels: International Association or Demo- 



FOUR: THE ROME-WASHINGTON CONNECTION 



99 



Under Secretary for Security, was the first Italian official to refer pub- 
licly to a "Bulgarian Connection." 105 In short, Italian intelligence had 
fabricated a KGB plot and was already disseminating it long before 
Agca made his first serious claims of Bulgarian involvement. 106 

Third, SISMI was honeycombed with corruption in the 1970s and 
early 1980s. In addition to the matters dealt with in the Judgment, 
Pazienza was deeply involved in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. He is 
now wanted in Italy for, among other things, arranging a $3 million loan 
to an Italian construction company, whose top official used $2 million 
for personal ends, with Pazienza drawing a $250,000 finder's fee. We 
have mentioned Pazienza's numerous Mafia contacts. Santovito and 
several of his associates were eventually arrested and convicted for ac- 
tive participation in the drug and arms traffic. Some of these transac- 
tions even involved cooperation with the Turkish Gray Wolves to trans- 
port contraband goods across Bulgaria.' 07 This relationship between 
SISMI and the Gray Wolves may have helped induce Agca to cooperate 
in the manufacture of the Bulgarian Connection. 

Finally, SISMI was exceedingly amenable to serving as an errand boy 
for U.S. officials. We have mentioned the longstanding dependency on 
the CIA, reflecting the larger and deeper dependency of the Italian elite 
on U.S. power. The Billygate case, with Ledeen, Pazienza, and SISMI 
working together in the service of the Reagan election campaign, and 
manipulating the Italian media and political environment with money 
and the resources of an important intelligence agency, is suggestive. 
"Billygate" was a model of what can be done in the way of setting 
somebody up for a media coup, using the power available to U.S. 
agents and their Italian allies. It takes little imagination to contemplate 
the possibility that this duo or their numerous associates in the Italian in- 
telligence agencies and police might have worked out a way to take ad- 
vantage of Agca's presence in jail and his visit to Bulgaria. 

cratic Lawyers, 1985), pp. 20-21 . If this document were not a forgery, we may be sure 
that it would have been introduced into evidence by Martella and his colleagues much ear- 
lier. 

105. He made his statement in an interview on Thames Television, T V. Eye, on Sep- 
tember 3, 1 98 1 . A consultant to the producers of the program was Paul Henze. Two days 
after the broadcast Henze delivered his report on the Bulgarian Connection to Reader's 
Digest, which then proceeded to hire Claire Sterling to investigate the "Connection " 

106. As we note elsewhere in the text, Agca mentioned the Bulgarians very early, but 
superficially and along with a large number of other implausible claims. 

107. "La P-2, les service italiens, le trafic drogues/armes: 1'attentatcontrc lepapeet la 
CIA," Le Monde du Renseignemem. October-December 1983. pp. 43-45 



100 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Craxi and the Politics of the Bulgarian Connection 



There is intense hostility and conflict between the Italian Communist 
Party and the Socialist Party and Christian Democrats. It is obvious that 
a successful linking of the Bulgarians and Soviet Union to the assassina- 
tion attempt against the Pope would be a severe blow to the Communist 
Party and the Left. Socialist Minister of Defense Lagorio stated to the 
Italian Parliament that the attempted assassination attempt by Bulgaria 
was a ' 'declaration of war. ' ' And the conservative press in Italy has pro- 
duced a steady outpouring of the Sterling-Jonathan Institute line that the 
Soviet Union is the base of all terrorism. The western media have not 
commented on the fact that Lagorio's statement about a declaration of 
war was based on a belated confession by a long-imprisoned murderer, 
and that this assertion of guilt was made before any court had reached 
such a conclusion. Coming from a high official of the government, the 
statement shows both the high political stakes involved and the dubious- 
ness of the Italian political scene for a fair investigation and trial. 

Socialist Party leader Bettino Craxi has been either unable or unwill- 
ing to carry out any extensive programs of social reform. In place of 
these, he has built his political strategy on anti-Soviet rhetoric, militari- 
zation within the New Cold War framework, and associated service to 
the Reagan administration. 108 Craxi therefore had a large vested interest 
in the initiation, pursuit, and successful outcome of the case against the 
Bulgarians. The Christian Democrats, P-2, and reactionary elements in 
the police and security forces had a parallel interest. Thus the political 
elements with a stake in bringing and winning the case were formidable 
and have commanded powerful business, financial, and press support in 
Italy. They also received strong support from the Reagan administra- 
tion, which gained enormous benefits from the Connection. 



108. See Diana Johnstone, The Politics of Euromissiles: Europe's Role in America's 
World (London: Verso, 1984), Chapter 4. 



5. Darkness in Rome: 
The Western System off 
Induced Confession 



w n his novel Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler imagines the way in 
M which confessions were induced in the Soviet staged trials of the 
1930s. Isolating the prisoner, persuading him of the hopelessness of his 
position, and convincing him that he could best contribute to his own 
and the national welfare by a properly directed confession yielded the 
desired results. With the incarceration and isolation of Agca, the sub- 
sequent pressures for cooperation, and the resultant confessions chan- 
neled to mutual advantage, the West produced an analogous result in 
Rome. Although the case against the Bulgarians was finally lost, the 
analogy still holds for a four-year travesty of justice that produced a 
huge propaganda windfall to its sponsors.' 

Throughout the period immediately preceding Agca's naming of Bul- 
garians, the Reagan administration and the powerful right wing of Italy 
were striving to put into effect the message of the Jonathan Institute con- 
ference of July 1979: Tie the Soviet Union to "international terrorism." 
Agca's confessions and Martella's mindless pursuit of the case served 
well both the Reagan- Jonathan Institute objectives and those of P-2 and 
Bettino Craxi and his political allies in Italy. 

I . The Bulgarian Sergei Antonov, although now released, was incarcerated For more 
than three years. He also seems to have collapsed mentally and physically from the stress 
or the accusations and confinement. 



101 



102 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



How Agca Was Coached 



We believe that Agca was coached to implicate the Bulgarians. Coach- 
ing, as we use the term here, involved three elements. One was identify- 
ing for Agca the preferred villains. The second was inducing him, by of- 
fering benefits and/or threatening him with damage, to name them as his 
collaborators. The third ingredient was to supply Agca with the infor- 
mation necessary to allow him to formulate a plausible scenario of a 
conspiracy and to name specific co-conspirators. The direct and cir- 
cumstantial evidence that all three of these things were done in the Bul- 
garian Connection case is now compelling. 

Many individuals with an interest in pinning the plot on the Bulga- 
rians had access to Agca in prison, and they had an extended opportu- 
nity to bribe and threaten him. We saw in the previous chapter that the 
Italian secret services were dominated by P-2 members in 1981 and had 
a long history of subservience to U.S. intelligence. They also had a 
well-documented history of planting fabricated evidence on the Left. 
Both SISMI and the Interior Ministry were spreading concocted tales of 
Soviet and Bulgarian involvement in the assassination attempt long be- 
fore Agca named any Bulgarians. The intelligence services not only had 
access to Agca in prison, they also had longstanding relations with the 
Mafia, whose incarcerated leaders dominated the Ascoli Piceno prison 
in which Agca was held. 

There is also evidence that some people within the Vatican were 
eager to make Agca talk. The western press accepted the Sterling-Henze 
line that the Soviets sought to quell the Solidarity movement in Poland 
by removing its papal support. Unmentioned was the possible papal 
motivation for getting the imprisoned Agca to implicate the Soviets in 
order to strengthen Polish resistance to martial law and to weaken Soviet 
influence in Poland and elsewhere. The first book on the assassination 
attempt, The Drama of May 13, was published in West Germany by a 
Vatican priest, who claimed that the KGB had trained Agca in the 
Soviet Union and had ordered the shooting. 2 Suleyman Yetkin, an old 
Turkish comrade of Agca's from Malatya residing in West Germany, 
was paid a substantial sum of money in several installments by Dr. 

2. The author, Vendelin Sluganov, got this "information" from the intelligence report 
forged by SISMI and released on May 19. 1981. mentioned in the previous chapter. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



103 



Hoemeyer, Secretary General of the Union of Catholic Bishops, to per- 
suade Agca to say that he had been hired by the KGB. 3 

Orsan Oymen, the West German correspondent of the Turkish paper 
Milliyet, and its specialist in the assassination attempt, was told by 
Padre Ginno, a Vatican librarian, that "Our Church took advantage of 
the assault against the Pope. It suggested in a secret manner the KGB 
thesis to the press, and then stepped aside." The Vatican also had an 
agent within the prison: Father Mariano Santini, the Catholic chaplain in 
Ascoli Piceno. Santini had regular access to Agca in prison, and Padre 
Ginno suggested to Oymen that Santini was a key figure in getting Agca 
to talk. Giovanni Pandico, the chief state witness in the trial of the 
Mafia in Naples, also gives Santini a prominent place in his account of 
how Agca was induced to talk. Cardinal Silvio Oddi acknowledged to 
Oymen that Agca wrote a letter on September 24, 1982 — just weeks be- 
fore he named the Bulgarians, and immediately after the publication of 
Sterling's Reader's Digest article — in which he complained to Vatican 
authorities that the prison chaplain was putting pressure on him and that 
he feared for his life." In short, not only did P-2 and the Italian secret 
services have a political interest in getting Agca to talk and have direct 
access to him, so did agents of the Vatican, who were actively using 
their influence in this direction from the time of the shooting. 

Agca's motives are equally clear. There is solid evidence that he was 
induced to talk by the classic method of carrot and stick. After his first 
trial, he was taken to Ascoli Piceno prison, where he was supposed to be 
kept in solitary confinement for a full year. Isolated and harassed in var- 
ious ways by prison officials, Agca complained about these pressures, 
both physical and psychological, to his family and to prison authorities. 
Following a softening up period, but long before the expiration of his 
term of solitary confinement, he was provided with a comfortable cell 
with TV, radio, and private bath. On December 29, 1981, officials of 
Italian intelligence visited him. Shortly thereafter Agca was visited for 

3. This plan was eventually callad of f in March 1 982. shortly af ter the meeting which, 
according to Giovanni Pandico, took place between Musumeci and Agca in February or 
early March 1982, as described in the text. Orsan Oymen, who reported these arrange- 
ments between Hoemeyer and Yetkin, was shown a letter of March 1982 calling off the 
visit to the prison. See Orsan Oymen, "Behind the Scenes of the 'Agca Investigation,' 
Milliyet, November 1984. 

4. Ibid During the trial. Judge Santiapichi commented to Santini that Agca seemed to 
use an "ecclesiastically tinged" version of Italian. Santini denied having given Agca in- 
structions in the Italian language, but in his final defense statement on March 8, 1966, An- 
tonov's counsel Giuseppi Consolo claimed that Santini visited Agca more than 90 times 



104 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the first time by Investigating Magistrate Ilario Martella. On February 
2, 1982, Agca told his lawyer that he had been offered a deal by the in- 
telligence services for talking — a reduction of his prison sentence to ten 
years or less.' It was also reported in the Italian press that Agca was 
threatened with a loss of his privileges and with being released into the 
general Italian prison population if he failed to cooperate. The implica- 
tion was that this might result in assassination for the assailant of the 
Pope. 6 Martella himself acknowledged in his final Report that he had 
held out to Agca the possibility of having his sentence commuted by 
presidential pardon if he cooperated with the investigation.' Thus a 
period of using the stick, and a continuing threat of further applications 
of the stick, were combined with positive inducements to talk. 

There is some dispute over the number and significance of intelli- 
gence services visits to Agca in prison. Judge Martella and Prosecutor 
Albano both claimed only a single visit in which nothing of great inter- 
est occurred. On the other hand, an Italian police report in August 1982 
stated that the secret services conducted "interviews" (plural) with 
Agca for the purpose of trying to determine whether or not there were 
"international connections" (i.e., a Bulgarian Connection) underlying 
the plot. The Italian press also reported multiple visits by the secret ser- 
vices to Ascoli Piceno prison and to Agca in particular. The interview of 
December 29, 1981 , lasted five hours, according to one of the officers 
involved. The Albano and Martella Reports stress that Agca said little 
that was useful on December 29, 1981 , and that Agca could hardly have 
been coached by officials who knew so little themselves. This misses 
the complexity of coaching, which is not limited to the supply of details. 
At the meeting of December 29, Agca was almost surely shown who the 
secret services wanted to cast in the role of villains and what he would 
have to do to get back into the limelight and improve his personal condi- 
tion as a prisoner. These are important elements of coaching. 

The actual decision to "confess" and the more detailed mechanics of 
making a proper confession undoubtedly came later. According to the 

5. Diana Johnstone. "Latest scandal leads to Reagan administration," In These Times, 
December 5-11, 1984. 

6 The secret services "visited Agca and warned him that once his solitary confinement 
was over, 'the authorities could no longer guarantee his safety Days before he was due to 
be moved to the main wing of the prison Agca began to reveal the 'Bulgarian Connec- 
tion.' " Tana de Zuluela and Peter Godwin, "Face To Face With The Colonel Accused 
Of Plotting To Kill the Pope," Sunday Times (London), May 26, 1983, p. 50 

7 Martella Report, pp 464-65(67.2-23) 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



105 



statement of Giovanni Pandico, Agca was finally induced to talk by 
Raeffele Cutolo, the Naples Mafia chief, who was an inmate of Ascoli 
Piceno prison at the same time as Agca. Cutolo had been persuaded to 
do this by General Giuseppi Musumeci, a P-2 member and formerly 
second in command of SISMI." In Pandico's account, Musumeci, 
Cutolo, a prison chaplain, and a prison official explained to Agca that 
he could expect trouble in prison if he failed to cooperate. It was also 
suggested to him that it might be possible to arrange for getting him out 
in six or seven years, if he did what was required of him. It was at this 
point, also, according to Pandico, that Agca was given detailed instruc- 
tions on the lines of a preliminary confession.' 

As a rightwinger and anticommunist it should not have been too diffi- 
cult to persuade Agca that by implicating the Bulgarians he was contrib- 
uting to a useful crusade against a common enemy. Many Agca obser- 
vers have noted that Agca will tell his interrogators what they want to 
hear, as long as this is not damaging to his own interests. Agca will, in 
fact, tell his interrogators more than they want to hear because of his 
longstanding propensity to spin out mythical tales in which he is the 
hero. Orsan Oymen noted that "During my previous conversations with 
friends of Agca I had noticed some things which suggested signs of 
Agca's being obsessed with a mania for concocting stories. For in- 
stance, when Suleyman from Malatya told me about Mehmet Ali's 
years at high school, he claimed that his schoolmate had a liking for ad- 

8. Pandico's claims have been denied by Cutolo, Musumeci, Pazienza, and others. 
Pandico's statement has not been corroborated, but the denials, by people in serious 
trouble on whom the Italian state has leverage, are of dubious credibility There is no evi- 
dent reason why Pandico would create a false scenario for this set of events, and his 
claims are plausible. Pazienza has suggested that Pandico's story was part of a plot by 
other elements of SISMI to shift the blame for the second conspiracy to him. According to 
Pazienza, it was these other elements in SISMI who coached Agca (see below) 
Pazienza's accusations are quite detailed and are possibly true, although he has lied on 
many matters and lacks credibility. Furthermore, Pandico's naming of Musumeci and 
Pazienza occurred only a week after his mother was injured in an attack presumably by the 
Mafia, and would seem to be aimed at damaging the Maf ia, not as part of a SISMI-Mafia 
plot to cover themselves at the expense of Pazienza. Surprisingly, Pandico's claims were 
given indirect support by Claire Sterling, who asserted that she was told by an Italian 
judge that Cutolo had tried to ' 'scare Agca to death" in order to ingratiate himself with the 
Italian prison authorities Claire Sterling, "Silenzio so spara," Panorama, April 23, 
1984 

9. Pietro Calderoni, "Cell With Services," L Espresso. June 23, 1985; Bruno Rubino, 
"Pazienza? The Bulgarian Trail Is His Idea," L'Epoca, July 1 , 1985 Both of these arti- 
cles are interviews with Pandico. 



106 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



venture and spy novels, invented all sorts of scenarios, and believed 
them himself." 10 

Agca would also be amenable to fingering the Bulgarians because this 
provided him with another opportunity to make a mark on the world. 
Self-aggrandizement and public recognition — what Mumcu and others 
call his "Carlos complex" — are apparently among Agca's driving emo- 
tional needs. Agca was referred to half -affectionately by some of his 
Gray Wolves colleagues as the "Emperor." The Emperor likes to be in 
the limelight, and enjoyed the notoriety of shooting the Pope. In fact, 
this appears to have been one of the motivating forces for the assassina- 
tion attempt itself. Moving once again to center stage by his confession 
implicating the Bulgarians and KGB, Agca was pleased with the re- 
newed attention and was eager to provide his new collaborators with 
what they wanted. Playing his new role, he repeated in rote fashion, and 
like a bad actor, all the formulas of the Sterling school of "international 
terrorism." 

In our view of what actually transpired in Italy, Agca would not have 
required much direct coaching. Having been shown his options, and the 
usefulness and personal advantage of cooperation, he would understand 
that his captors were deeply interested in proving a Bulgarian involve- 
ment in the assassination attempt. This had already been made clear in 
the interviews of the secret services and in the drift of Martella's interro- 
gations. By September 1982 Sterling's Reader's Digest article and the 
NBC-TV spectacular on the Plot had made their mark, and the Sterling 
model of a Bulgarian Connection had surely reached Agca through the 
media as well as via interrogations. Here was a ready-made opportunity 
to move back to center stage! 

Pandico claimed that Musumeci came to Ascoli Piceno with a set of 
note cards on which were written the motivations that Agca was sup- 
posed to offer as the basis for his confession, as well as the details on 
what he was to say about Bulgarian and Soviet involvement. A year and 
a half before Pandico 's statement, another Mafia member turned in- 
former, Giuseppi Cilleri, had already been cited in the Italian press as 
claiming that Francesco Pazienza had been a "frequent visitor" to As- 
coli Piceno prison and that he had personally given Agca instructions in 
preparation for the photo identification of Bulgarians." Whether by 
such means, or by judiciously informative questioning combined with 

10. Oymen, op. cit., n. 3. 

1 1 . Calderoni, op. cit., n. 9. The account of Cilleri's testimony was given in an article 
on Agca in L' Espresso, December 25, 1983. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



107 



access to the Sterling-Kalb version of the Plot, Agca was provided with 
enough detail to make a plausible first approximation case. He was 
eventually shown pictures of individuals and apartments, with identifi- 
cation sufficient to allow him to provide "surprising details."" Then, 
with generous access to journalistic accounts of the case and related is- 
sues," and by the intelligent use of further questions by the secret ser- 
vices and magistrates," 1 Agca could provide new claims and more "sur- 
prising details" without requiring explicit coaching. 

A curiosity in the case, which strongly supports the coaching 
hypothesis, is the long time that it took for Agca to name the Bulga- 
rians. Arrested in May 1981, Agca did not begin to name his Bulgarian 
accomplices until October and November of 1982, a lapse of 17 to 18 
months. This was the period of opportunity, during which the coinci- 
dence of interest between Agca and his captors could be made to yield a 
congenial confession. Agca failed to provide a single Bulgarian name 
until some six months after he had agreed to cooperate with the Italian 
authorities, which was in April 1982. Neither Sterling nor Marlella has 
provided a satisfactory explanation for Agca's long delay in implicating 
the Bulgarians.' 5 Our conclusion is that he did not confess earlier about 
Bulgarian participation because he had nothing to confess. He had to be 
softened up in prison and then induced to say the right things. 
To recapitulate the reasons for believing that Agca was coached: 
• A large array of political factions in Italy, extending from P-2 
through the Craxi socialists, and including important people within the 
Vatican, had a strong political stake in getting Agca to implicate the 
Bulgarians and Soviet Union. 

12. We discuss below the evidence that the photo identification parade was pre-ar- 
ranged. 

13. ' 'Every single fact that Agca describes about the workings of the Turkish Mafia and 
its links with Bulgaria was contained in a series of newspaper articles which Agca read in 
jail." De Zulueta and Godwin, op. cil , n. 6, p. 50. 

14. "When asked by Martella in Bulgaria whether he had any salient physical features, 
Vassilev said that he had a mole on his left cheek. In a subsequent confession, as Vassilev 
points out, 'Agca described my mole in the very same words which I used in describing it 
here.' " Ibid., pp. 48, 50. In his final defense summary on March 7, 1986, Antonov's at- 
torney Consolo pointed out that Agca originally described Aivazov as speaking Italian 
"quite well." The proprietor of the boarding house in Rome where Agca stayed sub- 
sequently testified that the individual who reserved a room for Agca, alleged by Agca to 
have been Aivazov, spoke "perfect" Italian. Shortly thereafter Agca changed his ac- 
count: Aivazov spoke "perfect" Italian. Agca was supposedly not privy to the secret tes- 
timony of the boarding house proprietor. This pattern occurred with great frequency. 

15. We discuss Sterling's attempts at an explanation in Chapters 2 and 6. 



108 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



• The Reagan administration was also anxious to demonstrate the 
depth of Soviet evil in the early 1980s, and its propaganda instruments 
were in the forefront in pressing each and every propaganda opportu- 
nity. Agca's visit to Sofia provided such an opportunity to Sterling, 
Henze, and company. The power of the U.S. media, and the links of the 
U.S. government, intelligence agencies, and business community to 
their counterparts in Italy are capable of affecting Italian political 
choices. 

• Agca was perfectly positioned to be manipulated. He was in prison 
for life and easily subjected to inducements and threats by his captors. 

• Agca was also readily manipulable by virtue of his personal charac- 
teristics and politics. He liked to make up stories and to be at the center 
of attention. He also had durable ties to the anticommunist extreme 
Right of Turkey. 

• The possibilities of manipulating Agca were recognized by all par- 
ties from the start, and both SISMI and the Vatican "jumped the 
gun' ' — the former fabricated a Soviet plot within a week of the assassi- 
nation attempt, while Vatican interests proposed that Agca be induced 
to talk long before he had claimed any Bulgarian involvement. 

• All of the Italian intelligence services were headed by P-2 members 
and were broadly infiltrated by P-2 at the time of the assassination at- 
tempt. This provided the opportunity to disseminate disinformation on 
Bulgarian-KGB involvement and then coach Agca to claim the reality of 
the disinformation scenario. In early 1981 Francesco Pazienza was a 
SISMI agent, and he and Michael Ledeen had been in an alliance of 
convenience to serve Reagan in the Billygate affair. Italy has a 
longstanding rightwing and intelligence tradition of planting fabricated 
evidence on the Left. 

• Despite his "solitary confinement," Agca had numerous visitors, 
many without the knowledge or approval of Investigating Magistrate 
Martella. As noted earlier, officials of the Italian intelligence services 
visited Agca on December 29, 1981, already probing into "interna- 
tional connections' ' and almost surely telling Agca who the security ser- 
vices were interested in implicating in the Plot and the advantages that 
would accrue to him by "cooperating." The Italian press has claimed 
that Agca was also visited by other SISMI officials, including Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Giuseppi Belmonte and Francesco Pazienza. 16 Agca himself 
told the court in June 1985 that he had been visited by Pazienza. We 

16. Johnstone, op cil , n. 5. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



109 



also know that he was visited by U.S. and Turkish intelligence officials, 
by a Turkish journalist, and by others. His prison conditions were 
ludicrously porous Tor a condemned criminal who the Investigating 
Magistrate was relying upon for new information. 

• Agca was in a prison cell next to that of Dr. Giovanni Senzani, a 
"penitent" member of the Red Brigades, who stood to benefit by 
cooperating with SISMI and the prison authorities. Senzani was in regu- 
lar contact with Agca and supposedly taught him Italian. 

• Agca was also frequently attended to by Father Mariano Santini, a 
Catholic prison chaplain who was later jailed for serving as a prison 
emissary of the Mafia. Why would Agca, a non-Catholic, require the 
aid of a Catholic chaplain? As we noted earlier, a Vatican official de- 
scribed Santini as a Vatican instrument in inducing Agca to talk, and 
Agca himself complained to the Vatican and elsewhere of pressure from 
Santini. 

• Former mafioso Pandico has described in detail the pressures ap- 
plied to Agca by Pandico's former boss Cutolo. Cutolo, an inmate in the 
Ascoli Piceno prison at the same time as Agca, was in a position to 
threaten him. Pazienza has denied his or Musumeci's involvement, 
claiming that other elements in SISMI, also linked to Michael Ledeen, 
actually did coach Agca, but have tried to shift the blame on to him. 
Pazienza named names and provided many details, although he is not 
noted for reliability. But as Diana Johnstone points out: "With 
Pazienza's denials and counter-accusations, the controversy is boiling 
down to a question of who within SISMI invented the Bulgarian Con- 
nection and whether they were prompted by American colleagues." 17 

• Following his period of isolation and harassment, but while still 
theoretically in solitary confinement, Agca had a TV set and radio, and 
received newspapers and private communications from outside the 
prison. According to Prosecutor Albano's Report, when in June 1983 
Agca withdrew his assertion that he had visited Antonov's apartment 
and met his wife and daughter, he stated that he had obtained his de- 
scription of Antonov's apartment — its layout, furnishings, etc. — from 
newspapers." The prosecutor also conceded that Agca's feat in produc- 

17 Diana Johnstone, "Bulgarian Connection: Finger-pointing in the pontiff plot 
labyrinth," In These Times, January 29-February 4, 1986 

18. Agca got useful materials for his confessions from Turkish books and magazine ar- 
ticles, as well as radio, TV. newspapers, and coaches The role of Celenk in Agca's plot 
scenario escalated sharply after he read a book by Mumcu on arms smuggling in which 
Celenk was a key figure. See note 36 in Chapter 2. See also note 13 above 



110 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ing the telephone numbers of various Bulgarians had been accomplished 
by his looking them up in a telephone book "inadvertently" provided to 
him. Agca repeated these declarations during the trial, telling the court 
that he had found the details of his "confessions" in the newspapers. 

While these admissions demonstrate the breakdown of controls over 
Agca's sources of information bearing on the case, they do not prove 
coaching. The Bulgarians, and Antonov's defense counsel, claim, how- 
ever, that a thoroughgoing search of press coverage shows that at the 
time he provided the details on Antonov's apartment, no Italian or Tur- 
kish newspaper had yet produced a single word about Antonov's flat in 
Rome. This defense claim is in accord with common sense. Why would 
any paper have provided details of Antonov's apartment before Agca's 
claims made those details an issue? Such descriptions only followed his 
confession and the first investigative visit to Antonov's flat on June 1 1, 
1983." 

• Former Minister of Defense Lagorio stated before the Italian Parlia- 
ment that Agca identified his Bulgarian accomplices in September 1982 
from a photo album that had been prepared by the secret services. Al- 
bano's Report placed the photo identification on November 8, 1982, 
and Martella also stated that on November 8 Agca picked out the Bulga- 
rians "without being informed in any way of the names or positions of 
the people involved.'" 0 The contradiction between Lagorio and Albano- 
Martella has never been explained, but lends credence to the supposition 
that Agca was shown the photo album before November 8. 

There are several other features of the photo album display which 
suggest bias, coaching, or both. One is that the album contained exclu- 
sively pictures of Bulgarians — 56 in all — which means that if Agca had 
picked three persons at random he would still have named three Bulga- 
rians. Second, prior to his initial photo identification session Agca had 
"confessed" to knowing only two Bulgarian officials, "Kolev" and 
"Bayramic." He identified these two as being photos number one and 
number two in the album, an amazing coincidence. (The odds against 
any two of 56 photos occupying places number one and two in the 
album by chance are 1,540 to one). Another noteworthy feature of the 
photo identification is that at his second session he picked out as "Pet- 
rov" the only person in the album dressed in military uniform. 1 ' It 

19. Boyan Traikov, Mystification. Dr. Martella! (Sofia: Sofia Press, 1984), p. 28. 

20. Quoted in Michael Dobbs, "A Communist Plot to Kill the Pope — Ora Liar"s Fan- 
tasy," Washington Post, November 18, 1984. 

21 . Although Petrov was allegedly his "control," his existence had previously slipped 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



111 



would appear that the security services were trying to make it easier for 
Agca to select the right people ("Remember, the one with a military 
uniform, and the first two in the album"!). Finally, the photo album 
shown to Agca had been used earlier in a trial involving Senzani, the 
Red Brigades prisoner who was in the next cell to Agca and in frequent 
communication with him. Senzani would have been well situated to 
brief Agca on the Bulgarian details that he needed to know in the iden- 
tification parade. 

• Antonov was allegedly introduced to Agca as "Bayramic." 
Bayramic is the name of a small town in Turkey located near Agca's 
home in Malatya. (This was disclosed by Antonov's defense counsel in 
his concluding remarks on March 6, 1986.) This would be another ex- 
traordinary coincidence if we were to take Agca's word that this was a 
code name fixed by the Bulgarians; on the other hand, it is entirely com- 
prehensible if we assume that the name was another concoction by 
Agca. 

• According to Agca, "Bayramic" was the only name by which he 
knew Antonov. But he allegedly communicated with Antonov by call- 
ing him at the Bulgarian Embassy, through the general switchboard. 
Martella never addressed the question of how Antonov could be reached 
through the switchboard operator, who presumably did not know An- 
tonov's highly secret code name, by Agca, who knew Antonov only by 
the code name. 

• Initially Agca identified Antonov as having a beard. While An- 
tonov had a beard at the time of his arrest, his counsel was able to prove 
that he did not have a beard at a time when Agca claims they met. Agca 
identified Antonov on the basis of a later photograph, making the kind 
of mistake in timing that occurs with coaching, when the beard appear- 
ing later is carelessly assumed to have been worn earlier. How did Agca 
even recognize the bearded Antonov whom he had never seen in the 
bearded state? On the supposition that he might still have recognized 
him, would he not be likely to note his former nonbearded state? Agca 
subsequently suggested that Antonov probably wore a false beard. And 
the beard apparently changed color at each meeting, as in a bad spy 
thriller. 22 

• In his detailed description of Antonov's apartment, Agca men- 
tioned a folding door that divided the apartment. But while such a door 

Agca's memory. 

22. For the actual sequence of Agca's changing claims about Antonov's beard, see the 
text below on pp. 1 16-17. 



112 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



existed in the other apartments in the building, the folding door had 
been removed in Antonov's apartment and replaced by a curtain prior to 
Agca's alleged visit. Again, as in the case of Antonov's beard, we have 
the kind of mistake easily made by imperfect coaching, where the ar- 
rangements in Antonov's apartment are inferred from those in other 
apartments in the same building. 23 

• After Agca retracted his claim that he had been on reconnaissance 
missions planning to murder Walesa, he was asked to explain how he 
knew so much about Walesa's hotel if he had never been there? Accord- 
ing to Michael Dobbs, "Agca claimed that he learned the details from 
magistrates who had interrogated him in connection with a parallel in- 
vestigation into an alleged Bulgarian spy ring in Italy." 24 This admis- 
sion once again displays a broken-down judicial process. But there are 
two further problems. First, at the time that Agca was interrogated by 
these magistrates, they themselves had not received the information 
which they supposedly passed on inadvertently to Agca. Second, the in- 
terrogations of Luigi Scricciolo, which he named as the source of his in- 
formation, do not contain any descriptions of the building in question. 2 ' 
Agca also named a Bulgarian diplomat, Ivan Dontchev, as a partner in 
the Walesa murder plot, and he identified Dontchev from a photo 
album. Subsequently Agca admitted that he had never seen Dontchev in 
his life. How did he identify Dontchev's picture without coaching? 26 



Martella, Priore, and Italy's Investigation of the Plot 



Just as the U.S. press has never seen fit to examine the Italian political 
environment, so also it has never analyzed closely Magistrate Ilario 
Martella and his handling of the Bulgarian Connection. Martella was 
often given laudatory and entirely uncritical accolades emphasizing his 

23. Also living in the same apartment building in 1 98 1 was Reverend Felix A . Mor lion, 
a veteran reactionary and CIA asset. Perhaps the folding door idea was obtained from 
Morlion See "The Role of Felix Morlion," CoverlAclion Information Bulletin, Number 
25, Winter 1986, p. 30; // Mondo, April 8, 1985; and L Espresso, May 19, 1985. 

24. Michael Dobbs, "Agca's Changing Testimony," Washington Post, October 17, 
1984. 

25. Martella Report, pp. 375-82 (490-500), 423-27 (557-63). 

26. Coaching would include a disclosure by a magistrate during interrogation which the 
witness seizes upon and is allowed to use as confirmation of his special knowledge of the 
matter disclosed to him! See note 14 above on Age*** identification of Vassilev's mole. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



113 



determination, conscientiousness, and integrity; but his background and 
performance were never considered in any depth or with the slightest 
critical perspective. This allowed the press to proceed on the assumption 
that we were witnessing in Italy a thorough and unbiased judicial inves- 
tigation, and it permitted the steady stream of fresh allegations and leaks 
to be given full propaganda value. 

With an unbiased media, by contrast, we believe that the fraudulent 
character of the pre-trial proceeding would have been quickly made evi- 
dent." The preceding chapter described a political environment that 
seriously threatened the integrity of judicial processes, and in fact the 
antiterrorism law under which the case was brought suspends many of 
the traditional rules that distinguish democratic from nondemocratic 
societies. The passionate public statements by political leaders in Italy 
and the United States that clearly prejudged the case, the enormous 
media barrage that did the same, and the huge stake of Italian and U.S. 
conservatives in the outcome made this a political and politicized case 
from the very beginning. Would this not affect the judicial system, the 
choice of investigators and judges in Italy, and their ability and willing- 
ness to look for the truth? The question did not arise in the West. 

The P-2 conspiracy penetrated the Italian judiciary. The 1984 Par- 
liamentary Report, for example, states that Dr. Carmelo Spagnulo, 
chief prosecutor of the Rome Court of Appeals, attended a key meeting 
held in Gelli's home in 1973. In the Report's general enumeration of 
P-2 penetration into public administration, which counted 422 P-2- 
linked officials, 16 active and 3 retired magistrates were included. 
Whatever the affiliations of particular judges such as Martella, this is 
symptomatic of an unhealthy judicial environment. 

By the late 1970s the Italian judiciary was saturated with the Sterling- 
Jonathan Institute perspective on terrorism. This framework was im- 
mediately applied to the plot against the Pope. Thus Martella's col- 
league Rosario Priore, Judge of the Court of Appeal and serving as In- 
vestigating Judge at the Rome Tribunal, produced a report entitled "The 
cases Moro, Dozier and the attack on the Pope," which is vintage Ster- 
ling. 28 After describing Agca's account of his stay in Sofia and present- 
ing a number of alleged facts about the Bulgarians named by Agca, 2 * 

27. We are speaking of the initiation and investigative phase of the case, not the trial, 
whose conduct was fair, although subject to political constraints. 

28. This document was circulated in the United States by the Italian Embassy. 

29. Two of them were in Bulgaria at the same lime as Agca, and two "were in service 
in Rome at the same time the structure discussed above was in operation — acquiring infor- 



114 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Priore says that this "network" shows "the interweaving of a number 
of international interests and the existence of centers that manipulate ter- 
rorism, which are located in other countries and in their intelligence ser- 
vices. . . Priore quotes without qualification Agca's description of 
his own role: "I am an international terrorist, ready to help the terrorists 
of any nation." 3 ' Priore asserts that the manipulators of international 
terrorism "aim at destabilizing the western democracies," 33 although he 
does not point to any evidence that would support this claim. This is of 
course a major theme of Claire Sterling's The Terror Network, which 
she could not sell to western intelligence agencies, but which found a 
happy home in the Italian judicial system. 13 Priore infers a "network" 
from an alleged Bulgarian Connection alone, and "international cen- 
ters" of terrorism (plural) from the same evidence. He shows not the 
slightest skepticism concerning Agca's testimony, despite its continu- 
ally shifting character and other deficiencies. He refers to Agca's state- 
ment — "I am an international terrorist" etc. — as "highly significant," 
not as a statement that would be significant if true. The extremely rote 
quality of Agca's remarks on international terrorism, which conform so 
precisely to — even caricature — the Sterling model of a modem terrorist, 
does not elicit doubts from this Italian judge, and coaching is not enter- 
tained as a possibility. The hypothesis that the Bulgarians and Soviets 
might have been set up by some other "centers of terrorism" (if any 
exist for Priore) is never addressed. 

Judge Ilario Martella apparently shares Priore's frame of reference. 
He was put in charge of the case in November 1981. Like Priore, Mar- 
tella started out with a prior assumption that the charges which he was 
supposed to be investigating were essentially true. The most remarkable 

mation on (he Italian trade unions. ..." Rosario Priore, "The cases Moro, Dozier and 
the attack on the Pope," p. 24. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Ibid., p. 25. 

32. Ibid., p. 26. 

33. The judge in charge of the second trial in Rome, Severino Santiapichi, who also 
presided over Agca's initial trial for the attempted assassination of the Pope, stated at the 
conclusion of the earlier trial that Agca was merely the surface representation of a "deep 
conspiracy . . . orchestrated by secret forces, carefully planned and directed down to the 
smallest detail." This reference to "secret forces" has a Sterling-like ring, and as we dis- 
cuss elsewhere in this book, the planning of the assassination attempt was remarkably 
mismanaged. In the second (rial, just concluded, Santiapichi showed that he was not corn- 
mined to the a priori "deep conspiracy" view, and the course of the trial as conducted by 
Santiapichi effectively undermined the "first conspiracy" scenarios of western disinfor- 
mationists and their "secret forces." 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



I IS 



illustration of this was his reaction to Agca's numerous lies and retrac- 
tions. In a normal judicial process, lies and retractions that destroy pari 
of the claims of a witness weaken the credibility of those parts that can- 
not be positively disproved. Disbelief is directly related to the number 
of lies and retractions. This was not true in the Martella investigation. 
Martella postulated that, having decided to tell the truth, Agca was al- 
ways struggling to make that core truth more credible. He lied, accord- 
ing to Martella, in order to "give more credibility to his statement." 14 
That the statement to which Agca desired to give credibility was not also 
a lie was, of course, merely Martella's gratuitous assumption, for which 
he gave no rationale. This assumption flies in the face of normal reason- 
ing — which does not rationalize selected lies by a priori assumptions 
about the liar's intent. Martella's investigation was therefore hopelessly 
biased at the outset. 

When Agca retracted evidence, for Martella this was to Agca's cred- 
it, as he was cleansing himself of excesses in his search for the truth. 
("We cannot ignore the particular importance in the search for truth of 
the 'retraction' made by the same Agca during the course of judicial in- 
quiry."") An alternative explanation, which Martella never addressed, 
is that Agca shifted his testimony in order to make a new dramatic entry 
on to the stage. This would, of course, require that he say that which the 
audience (i.e., Martella and his associates) wanted most to hear. 
Another possibility which Martella never mentioned is that Agca re- 
tracted claims because his lies had run into so many contradictions that 
they were no longer sustainable. Thus, Agca ultimately withdrew his 
claim that Aivazov was the man photographed from behind fleeing the 
Square on May 13, claiming instead that it was his friend Oral Celik. 
The reason for this recantation, according to Agca, was that he had de- 
termined "to tell the truth to the end even at the risk of harming a friend 
who like Celik is dearer to me than a brother but in the knowledge that I 
am telling the absolute truth." 3 " Martella quoted this with admiration, 
although it was an assertion of a man who had lied incessantly up to that 
very moment." Martella made no reference to the fact that Agca's re- 
traction followed shortly after a press conference in Sofia, at which the 
opportunity to see Aivazov had made it clearly evident to the assembled 

34. Martella Report, p. 377(492-93). 

35. Ibid., p. 769(986). 

36. Ibid., p. 127(172). 

37. The trial has cast doubts on the truth of Agca's identification of Celik in the Square. 
It appears that Martella was gulled twice about the identification of the one photograph. 



116 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



press that he bore no resemblance to the man in the Lowell Newton 
photograph, and thus it could not have been he in the Square. When the 
counsel f or the defense suggested that this, rather than a sudden burst of 
sincerity, might have had something to do with Agca's recantation, 
Martella refused to accept such a cynical view! 

Because for Martella Agca was a truth-seeker, he could adjust his evi- 
dence by a system of successive approximations. In fact, the great judi- 
cial innovation brought to the Bulgarian Connection case by Martella 
was allowing the witness supporting the a priori Free World truth about 
the assassination attempt to adjust his testimony by a trial-and-error pro- 
cess with no penalty for error. As Michael Dobbs pointed out, "The 
overall effect of these changes was to bring his evidence into line with 
events occurring outside the top-security prison where he was being 
held as well as with revelations about the case in the mass media. ' ,M Al- 
though he made errors on key points and radically contradicted himself 
time and again, this never fatally damaged Agca's credibility for Mar- 
tella. 

Agca's identification of Antonov and his claim to have done business 
with him were strategic points in the case. Consider, then, how Agca 
identified Antonov: 39 

(1) It took him six months after agreeing to cooperate with the Italian 
authorities even to mention Antonov 's existence. 

(2) In his first reference to Antonov, made at the end of October 
1982, Agca was brief. He said only that on May 12, 1981, his Bulgarian 
"control officer" pointed out Antonov to him as the man who would 
drive him on the next day to the assassination rendezvous. Agca said 
that Antonov had a blondish beard. 

(3) On November 8, 1982, Antonov was recognized by Agca in the 
photo album. He now had a black beard. Agca now remembered that he 
had seen Antonov on two or three previous occasions (whereas 10 days 
earlier he stated that he had seen Antonov only on May 1 2 and that he 
had had a blond beard). 

(4) On November 19, 11 days after being shown the photo, Agca's 
recollections bloomed and finer details were forthcoming. He now re- 
membered that Antonov had a broad forehead and a big nose, and that 

38. Dobbs, op. cit., n.24. 

39. The facts in this account are taken from the chronology given by Michael Dobbs in 
his "A Communist Plot to Kill the Pope — Or a Liar's Fantasy," Washington Post, 
November 18, 1984 This article summarizes Martella's interrogation of Agca on pages 
84-87 (103-7) of his Report. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



117 



he had been introduced to Agca not by his control officer but at the 
Hotel Archimede back in December 1980. At that time they discussed 
plans to assassinate Lech Walesa! 

(5) On November 27, 1982, Agca now claimed to have first met An- 
tonov in the apartment of his control officer at 36 Via Galiani. 

(6) By late December, Agca had moved on to a version of greater 
complexity and intimacy. He now claimed that he had met Antonov and 
his wife in their own apartment several days before the assassination at- 
tempt — a version Agca retracted on June 28, 1983. 

Agca also adjusted his story several times concerning the events of 
the day of the assassination attempt. It turned out that so many people 
had seen Antonov at the Balkan Air office on May 13, 1981 at 5 P.M. — 
the time when Agca claimed that Antonov was with him — that Agca's 
evidence was not sustainable. Well, Agca could then recall that he had 
in fact met Antonov somewhat earlier. This was perfectly understanda- 
ble to Martella. 

Agca's method was to adjust his claims until they fit times for which 
the Bulgarians had no ironclad alibis. His ability to get away with this 
depended on the fact that Martella disbelieved Bulgarians as strongly as 
he believed Agca (and anybody who supported his claims). For Mar- 
tella, Bulgarians were not seekers after the truth. Their failures to re- 
member all of the details of the events during a day two years earlier 
quickly aroused his suspicions. Numerous Bulgarian and Italian wit- 
nesses brought forward by the defense were dismissed for lack of preci- 
sion and for contradictions in their recollections. But when Agca was 
caught unable to state on what floor Aivazov's apartment was located 
(he allegedly visited it a number of times), Martella says "it would have 
been much more surprising had Agca been not mistaken." 40 

The Martella process was completed by his further dichotomous treat- 
ment of possible coaching. Martella was extremely alert to the possibil- 
ity that the Bulgarians might connive among themselves to create an 
alibi, and he was quick to dismiss new claims that corrected earlier in- 
consistencies. These he saw to be clearly based on collusion. But re- 
garding the possibility that Agca was primed from the beginning, or step 
by step, one can observe a completely different Martella — more under- 

40. Traikov, op cil., n 19, p. 38 When Agca tried to locate Aivazov's apartment, he 
got badly confused. He also misspelled the street name, using two 'Is' in Galiani, a mis- 
take made in the telephone directory, but not on the street sign on the block. None of these 
errors impressed Martella 



118 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



standing of Agca's problems in searching for the truth, and remarkably 
naive and vague about the possibilities of connivance and collusion. 

Here again was a double standard that protected a case which so well 
served western political interests. What makes Martella's naivetd about 
the possibility that Agca was coached especially ludicrous was that he 
maintained no control over the imprisoned Agca's visitors or activities, 
whether by lack of power or because he delegated it to the intelligence 
services and prison authorities. Martella was vague about this lack of 
control and its implications, but denied his own responsibility. Martella 
himself visited Agca only after a long delay, and shortly after the visit 
by the intelligence services. This suggests the possibility of a "two 
track" system, by which the intelligence services and prison authorities 
arranged for Agca to be primed, and Martella then accepted the new in- 
sights and sought to confirm them independently. This division of labor 
would allow SISMI and others to do the dirty work of getting Agca to 
see the light and feeding him the requisite information, while Martella 
would be left as an innocent if perhaps naive judge playing dumb about 
the SISMI preparations as he doggedly searched for the truth. 

In the summary of his final Report Martella spoke of the plot as "a 
real act of war. " This language was close to that demagogically used by 
Defense Minister Lagorio on the floor of the Italian Parliament, but it is 
an especially flamboyant and politically loaded phrase in a case resting 
strictly on Agca's claims and still untested in a jury trial. After noting 
that Agca had been provided with a perfectly forged passport and that he 
had received financial support and protection during his travels up to 
May 13, Martella concluded that "Ali Agca was only a pawn in a vast 
plot. ..." The facts cited by Martella, however, were perfectly com- 
patible with a "tiny plot" involving the Malatya branch of the Gray 
Wolves. The "vast" plot is political rhetoric not grounded in evidence. 

Martella's political bias was also reflected in his affinity for U.S. dis- 
informationists. Just prior to arresting Antonov, Martella visited the 
United States, where he was given a special viewing of the NBC-TV 
program "The Man Who Shot The Pope," and consulted with various 
government officials and experts on the case. One of his informants was 
Amaud de Borchgrave, a Red Scare novelist and major disinformation 
source. From de Borchgrave Martella got the information that the head 
of the French secret services had learned about an "Eastern" plot 
against the Pope in advance, and had actually warned the Vatican. 41 

41. The ultimate source of this information is unclear The head of the French intelli- 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



119 



This point eventually showed up in Agca's testimony. Agca claimed 
that the Bulgarians urged speed in executing the plot, as the French and 
Rumanian secret services were aware of it and the papal authorities 
might take countermeasures. Martella cited these claims in his Report's 
summary, apparently taking them seriously. He never seems to have 
noted the contradiction between the claim that the alleged conspirators 
feared prior knowledge of the plot by the authorities, and the incredibly 
loose behavior of the Bulgarians in entertaining Agca and openly parad- 
ing around with him for several days preceding the assassination at- 
tempt. We feel confident that this de Borchgravian information offered 
by Agca was fed to him by one of his interrogators, to be regurgitated 
for the delectation of the investigating magistrate. 

Claire Sterling also appears to have had a close relationship with Mar- 
tella. She states in The Time of the Assassins that she ' 'dropped in on 
Martella" to check up on his agenda, 42 and apparently did so more than 
once, 43 although she notes elsewhere that he "was free to discuss the 
case only with competent judicial authorities." 44 It would appear to be 
no coincidence that the first journalist to obtain the Albano Report was 
Claire Sterling. The Sterling "imprint" is evident in both the Albano 
and Martella Reports in their Cold War premises and in their framing of 
the Bulgarian Connection case. 

Under Martella's management the case was also notable for leaks and 
delays. Martella always reluctantly produced just enough copy to keep 
the pot boiling. After Agca was persuaded to implicate the Bulgarians in 
November 1982, Martella busily visited Antonov's apartment and 
otherwise displayed to the press that energy in pursuing Agca's claims 
that was one of his most distinctive attributes. On July 8, 1983, Agca 
was brought out of jail to be interrogated concerning the kidnapping of 
Emmanuela Orlandi, the Vatican official's daughter. The press was in- 

gence agency that passed the story along to the Vatican, Comte Alexandre de Marenche. 
was a good friend of Francesco Pazienza, who was at that time a member of SISMI and 
collaborator with Ledeen. Pazienza claimed that he and de Marenche warned the Vatican 
ot this threat six months ahead of the assassination attempt. (Jonathan Kwitny, "Tales of 
Intrigue: Why an Italian Spy Got Closely Involved In the Billygate Affair," Wall Street 
Journal, August 8, 1985, p. 12.) This was not the first time that de Marenche had warned 
the Pope about an alleged assassination attempt. De Marenche was himself an important 
disinformationist and recycler of the disinformation of other intelligence agencies. 

42. Claire Sterling, TheTime of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehartand Winston, 
1983), p. 64. 

43. Ibid., pp. 109, 194. 

44. Ibid., p. 144. 



120 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



formed of the occasion; and Agca was allowed to speak before Italian 
TV cameras, where he presented a full litany of Sterling cliches, as a 
spokesman for law and order: "I was trained in Bulgaria and Syria . . . 
the Bulgarian services. . . . Yes, by the KGB." Martella disclaimed re- 
sponsibility for allowing this organized press conference for Agca, but 
if this is true it indicates a serious lack of control over judicial processes. 
In December 1984 Agca was again allowed to be interviewed by an Ital- 
ian journalist, although he was presumably scheduled for trial for con- 
spiracy to murder. The leak of the Albano Report to Claire Sterling fits 
the same pattern. 

Martella showed no interest in any possible locus of the plot other 
than Bulgaria, a point also stressed and criticized by Turkish analyst 
Ugur Mumcu. 45 Agca spent a great deal of time in Switzerland and West 
Germany, which are major Gray Wolves centers, and the Gray Wolves 
provided Agca with money and guns throughout his travels in Europe. It 
is important, too, that the details showing extensive Gray Wolves in- 
volvement are independent of Agca's testimony. Although Celebi, 
Agca's paymaster, lived in Frankfurt, Martella failed to go there and 
seek evidence of a possible Gray Wolves conspiracy. 

Martella was also extremely unenterprising in seeking evidence that 
contradicted Agca's claims, and when he was confronted with it he 
tended to look the other way. In Bulgaria, Martella visited the Vitosha 
Hotel, where Agca claimed to have stayed and met his accomplices in 
Room 911. The Vitosha keeps extensive records — the guest register, 
passport data, and details on the occupants of each room. During the 
period of Agca's alleged stay, neither his name nor passport aliases ap- 
pear on the hotel records. According to Bulgarian authorities, Martella 
didn't even bother to make a court-usable copy of these records, nor did 
he show any interest in checking out and verifying the complete record 
of all of the room occupants during the relevant period. 46 

Another important illustration concerns Agca's claim to have met 
Mrs. Antonov on several different occasions and to have visited An- 
tonov, his wife, and daughter in their apartment. Even though these 
claims were extremely implausible, Martella believed them and failed to 
show any initiative in proving Agca wrong. The defense had to dig up 
the evidence that Mrs. Antonov had driven with friends to Yugoslavia. 
The defense — not the dogged investigator — got copies of hotel registers 

45 Ugur Mumcu, Papa, Mqfya. Agca (Istanbul: Tekin Yayinevi, 1984), p. 27 
46. Christian Roulette, La Filiere: Jean-Paul II, Antonov. Agca (Paris: Editions du Sor- 
bier, 1984), pp. 245-52. 



FIVE: DARKNESS IN ROME 



121 



and affidavits of identification at hotels and border crossings. At the 
time Agca allegedly met Mrs. Antonov at the Picadilly restaurant, she 
was in Sofia. The defense was obliged to seek out and produce compel- 
ling data showing this. Martella never even bothered to check out Mrs. 
Antonov's movements through the Rome airport. The Bulgarians claim 
that when Martella finally interrogated Mrs. Antonov, his questioning 
was lengthy and hostile. Subsequently, Agca admitted that he had never 
met Mrs. Antonov. 

Martella was clearly a "team player" — the team being the Italian 
political-intelligence elite and their allies in Washington, D C. His 
function was to push the Bulgarian Connection as far as it could be 
pushed, to deflect criticisms as best he could, to keep the ball in the air 
as long as public relations points could be extracted from it. He per- 
formed this function well. 



The Trial and The Coaching Hypothesis 



The trial provided important support for the coaching hypothesis in two 
ways. For one thing, by exposing Agca to open view and by its failure 
to obtain confirmation anywhere for his claims of Bulgarian involve- 
ment, the trial stripped away the last vestiges of believability of the 
Sterling-Henze model. In doing this, the trial proceedings inevitably 
suggested questions about the route through which Agca came to latch 
on to the Bulgarians, although this line of analysis was not pursued re- 
lentlessly. The court apparently felt that testing Agca's claims was the 
first order of business. If they were not confirmed, the prosecution's 
case was lost. The issue of how Agca came to expound false claims, 
while indirectly relevant, was not regarded as worthy of a major in- 
quiry. That area also happens to be especially sensitive politically. 

The trial also contributed to validating the coaching hypothesis more 
directly by information that cropped up during the proceedings. Some- 
times this information was thrust upon the court by independent de- 
velopments in Italy. Pandico's interview in L'Espresso describing a 
coaching scenario in detail could hardly be ignored. During the interro- 
gations of the Gray Wolves Ozbey and Catli, the court was taken aback 
by Catli's contention, and Ozbey's reluctant admission, that the West 
German police had offered a bribe to Celik to come to West Germany to 
testify in support of Agca's claims. This evidence added plausibility to 



122 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the coaching hypothesis by showing that the willingness of intelligence 
services to manipulate evidence in support of the Bulgarian Connection 
was not confined to Italy. As for Italy itself, during the course of the 
trial another court, in Milan, issued its dramatic judgment against 
Pazienza, Belmonte, and Musumeci for crimes, including the forging of 
evidence. This also helped to focus attention on the question of the in- 
tegrity of the Italian secret services, an issue that Albano, Martella, and 
Sterling had carefully avoided. 

In sum, the trial greatly strengthened the case — already formidable — 
that Agca was coached while in prison, and that the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion rested on a "second conspiracy." 



6. The Disinf ormationists: 
Sterling, Henze, 
and Ledeen 



As we have stressed, the Bulgarian Connection was exceedingly 
functional and met urgent political and ideological needs of the 
West. The Reagan administration's plan to build 17,000 new nuclear 
warheads and to deploy space-based battle stations is much more salable 
to the public and Congress when news headlines read: "Soviets Plot to 
Kill Pope. " In Italy also the Bulgarian Connection served well the Craxi 
socialists, Christian Democrats, and the neofascist P-2 in their efforts to 
embarrass and isolate the Communist Party and to facilitate participa- 
tion in the U.S. -sponsored New Cold War. 

Given the great serviceability of a Bulgarian-Soviet Connection to 
powerful western interests, it was to be expected that the mass media of 
the West would quickly accept and then help extract publicity mileage 
from claims of Soviet involvement. U.S. conservatives, of course, con- 
tend that the media are hotbeds of dissent, the source of unceasing strug- 
gle against established government and corporate interests. We will 
show in this and the following chapter that the conservative model has 
no relationship to reality in the Bulgarian Connection case, where mass 
media coverage of the Connection was almost completely dominated by 
the conservative Sterling-Henze-Ledeen axis. It is ironic that this trio 
and their allies regularly assail the media, while at the same time main- 
taining their own full, almost exclusive, access and essentially complete 
freedom from criticism. But the conservative attacks are purposeful, de- 
signed to intimidate the media into keeping out dissident voices al- 
together' and moving the system toward a desired 100 percent con- 

I . Given (heir position as established, brand name authorities, whose appearance will 



123 



124 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



formity. As Murray B. Levin points out in his Political Hysteria in 
America "A near unanimity of pro-conspiratorial communications may 
be a necessary precondition for the successful creation of a myth." 2 

Another important factor that causes the conservatives to attack the 
media is that they are themselves in the disinformation business. They 
all, of course, make periodic, usually brief, genuflections to Western 
Freedom, but their enthusiasm for the practice of political freedom is 
less evident.' This may be why they skirt so easily around the political 
crimes of rightwing states like Turkey and South Africa. Many conser- 
vatives contend that we are fighting a holy war against an enemy that 
has no scruple. We are at a disadvantage because of our tradition of hon- 
esty, etc. Fortunately, we have people like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew 
Brzezinski, Robert Moss, Ray Cline, and a few thousand others who are 
prepared to overlook our tradition of honesty in the face of the challenge 
to our National Security. In short, they will lie without scruple and 
create and/or disseminate fabrications, but they will call it "news man- 
agement.'"' Fred Landis argues persuasively that the recent spurt in 
rightwing attention to alleged Soviet disinformation and Soviet moles 
was closely related to the new surge of disinformation by the very indi- 
viduals levying the charges:^ 

Because this group planned to use the technique of disinformation within the 

not be protested by Accuracy in Media or the State Department, Sterling and Henze have 
been able to exclude contesting views from the media An official of one TV network in- 
formed us that both Sterling and Henze refuse to appear on network programs with critics, 
insisting on a de facto exercise of veto power over participants Only once in the years 
1 982-85 was a dissident voice on the Bulgarian Connection heard on national TV On that 
occasion, when Claire Sterling was confronted by Alexander Cockbum, we are informed 
by network personnel thai Sterling had vetoed participation by the present writers and 
Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post. When she appeared at the station and found that 
Cockbum was also to be on the program, she was outraged, and only at the last moment 
was persuaded not to walk out of the studio. See note 65 below on Henze 's even more 
comprehensive prior restraints on media programming. 
2. (New York: Basic Books, 1971), p. 1 18. 

3 The same is true of their leader. See, e.g., Walter Karp, "Liberty Under Siege: The 
Reagan Administration's Taste for Autocracy," Harper's, November 1985. 

4 According to Amaud de Borchgrave, Free World spokespersons never produce "dis- 
information," they only engage in "management of the news." See Fred Clarkson and 
Louis Wolf, "Amaud de Borchgrave Boards Moon's Ship," CovertAclion Information 
Bulletin. No. 24 (Summer 1985), p 35 

5 ' 'Spies and the Reagan Victory: 'The October 22 Movement, ' " CovertAclion Infor- 
mation Bulletin. Number 12 (April 1981), p. 36. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



125 



U.S. and because they realized that it would be used on such a scale as to raise 
questions among thoughtful observers, they raised the issue in advance them- 
selves. 

The best defense is a good offense. And if the U .S. disinformationists 
are able to command extensive and respectful attention in the mass 
media, they can kill two birds with one stone: disseminate their own dis- 
information, and protect themselves from serious criticism by threaten- 
ing the media with accusations of being Soviet stooges in reporting any 
dissenting fact or opinion. 

Claire Sterling, Paul Henze, and Michael Ledeen were the principal 
exponents of the Bulgarian Connection in the United States in the years 
1982-85. It is our belief that they were important participants in the cre- 
ation of the Connection, as well as its leading disseminators. The ac- 
counts which follow will show that they are disinformationists in the lit- 
eral sense of the term." We will describe more fully in Chapter 7 their 
dominance over the media's portrayal of the Bulgarian Connection. 



Claire Sterling: Terrorism Pseudoscholar 



For many years a journalist in Europe for the Reporter and other 
magazines, with the publication of The Terror Network in 1981, Claire 
Sterling became the leading publicist of the alleged Soviet-backed cam- 
paign of international terrorism. This work, which was immediately 
adopted as a fundamental text by the incoming Reagan administration, 
established Sterling's credentials in the eyes of the western media. The 
Terror Network, along with her more recent study of the papal assassi- 
nation plot, The Time of the Assassins, and her frequent articles in the 
New York Times and Wall Street Journal, can be analyzed as primary 
materials in the study of the pseudoscience of terrorism. 

This pseudoscience is illustrated by the infamous Lusk Report, a 
product of a post- World War 1 investigation by the New York state leg- 
islature which found a Red under every bed. Murray B. Levin describes 

6. Disinformationists are thasc who originate and/or dispense disinformation. "Disin- 
formation is an intelligence word which describes the coven attempt to manipulate the in- 
formational environment of a selected target group by such actions as planted stories, 
selective leaks, rumors, forged documents — all orchestrated toward a particular 
theme " Ibid., p 35 



126 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the methodology of this Red Scare classic as follows: 7 

The data is presented without any effort — serious or otherwise — to evaluate its 
validity or relevance. Generalizations and conclusions, unsupported by data, are 
sprinkled throughout. . . . The pseudoscholar proceeds to laboriously accumu- 
late vast numbers of "details" and documents. . . . Some of the details and 
documents refer to facts. Some of the details are fiction. Nothing remains un- 
explained. . . . The authors of the various parts of the report cite each other's 
analysis as authoritative." Documents are taken at face value, regardless of their 
source or the context within which they originally were presented. . . . Simul- 
taneity is taken as proof of cause and effect. . . . Possibilities are invested into 
certainties. Following the presentation of endless details, the conclusion is "in- 
evitable." . . . [V]ast historical forces are assumed to be set in motion by the 
mere will of a few monstrously evil but brilliant men. They pull puppet strings 
and duped and compliant millions act out their will. 

The qualities of the "pseudoscholar" are on full display in Sterling's 
writings on terrorism in general, and on the Bulgarian Connection in 
particular. We detail some of these qualities in the balance of this sec- 
tion. 

Manicheanism: Us versus them, good versus evil. Terrorism pseudo- 
scholars are committed ideologues who divide the world into people, 
movements, and states that are good and those that are evil. The former, 
which usually coincides with the analyst's fellow citizenry, country, 
leadership, and clients, are generous and kind, but also bumbling and 
insufficiently alert to the need to be harsh with the forces of darkness. 
The forces of evil are cruel, insidiously clever, and constantly plotting 
the downfall of the forces of decency. 

In the case of the plot to assassinate the Pope, Sterling is convinced of 
Bulgarian-KGB guilt because this is just the kind of thing that the forces 
of darkness do. The truth flows so easily from fundamental preconcep- 
tions of good and evil that evidence is really required only for public re- 
lations service. With or without evidence, one must choose. For exam- 
ple, Sterling says that in "choosing sides" one must take one or the 
other "on trust: the Italian judiciary or Bulgaria's Communist establish- 
ment.'" 1 At the point when Sterling wrote these lines in 1983, the "Ital- 

7 Op. cil., n. 2, pp 122-26. 

8 See the discussion of the "echo chamber effect" in Chapter 7 under "The Intellectu- 
als: Somnolence and Complicity." 

9. The Time of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehait and Winston, 1983), p 163 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



127 



ian judiciary" had not "chosen." Antonov was being held for an inves- 
tigation, but the investigating magistrate had not yet given an opinion, 
and of course a trial had not been held. For a terrorism pseudoscholar, 
however, the choice precedes careful investigation and a legitimate ju- 
dicial finding. For the Sterlings of the 1920s, Sacco and Vanzetti were 
guilty before the trial because they were on the wrong side and one had 
to "choose." 

Apologetics and coverup for rightwing terror. Sterling is a committed 
rightist. In The Terror Network she provides systematic apologetics for 
rightwing dictatorships, whose intelligence services are an important di- 
rect and indirect source for her claims about terrorism. She does not use 
the word "terrorism" to describe the torture and murder of political dis- 
sidents by the Chilean, Argentinean, and South African police, and she 
applies no indignant and sarcastic words to their actions. Even when 
their operations fit the category of "international terrorism" very liter- 
ally, such as in their cross-border assassinations 10 and preventive inva- 
sions," they fail to arouse her ire. 

Her apologetics for military dictatorships take two forms. First, she 
repeatedly suggests that military takeovers were a consequence of left- 
wing terrorist provocations. 12 This is a complete fabrication for the im- 
portant cases of Chile and Brazil, and is a misleading half truth for 
others. Her second mode of apologetics is to suppress the facts about 
what her favored military dictatorships do. Even if they were "pro- 
voked" into taking control of the state, how much killing, torture, and 
dismantling of democratic institutions followed? Sterling carefully av- 
erts her eyes, 13 as details on state terror would weaken the force of her 
attempt to make rebel movements the exclusive "terrorists." 

10 Under "Operation Condor" in the 1970s the security forces of Argentina, Brazil, 
Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay apprehended and murdered hundreds of dissidents by a col- 
lective monitoring and assassination system across borders. See Edward S. Herman, The 
Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda (Boston: South End Press, 
1982), pp. 69-73 Sterling has never discussed this terrorist enterprise 

II. See Richard Leonard, South Africa At War (Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill. 
1973); Sean Gervasi, "Secret Collaboration: U S. and South Africa Foment Terrorist 
Wars," Covert Action Information Bulletin. No. 22 (Fall 1984), pp. 36-40. 

12 In The Terror Network (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981), Sterling 
states that "the wall of police states" in Latin America in the mid-1970s was "largely of 
the terrorists' own making" (p 110) 

13. She says in The Terror Network that rightwing terrorism has big plans and is "well 
worth a book on its own" (p III), but she has not embarked «n this book as yet 



128 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Sterling's identification with the state terrorists is illustrated by her 
contrasting personal reactions to rebels and western officials in the kill- 
ing business. She reports in The Terror Network that at one time she 
found herself on a plane with a rebel terrorist who had been trained in 
Havana, and "I was too frozen with fear to open my mouth." 14 On the 
other hand, Sterling frequently cites conversations with representatives 
of the secret police of the Free World, who kill as ruthlessly and at least 
as frequently as her rebel, but she never mentions the slightest trepida- 
tion or lack of sympathy. In fact, she tells us that: 15 

One of my more memorable conversations in France was with a personage of 
vast charm and qualified experience who assured me that he would brand me a 
compulsive liar if I quoted him. If, now and then, I should notice a small news 
item about a body washed up on a beach, he said, it might well be that of some 
trained and unregenerate professional terrorist, sent on "a long, long voyage — 
very long, madame," in the interests of preserving public order. 

This was a "gentleman" of the Free World speaking to her, not a "ter- 
rorist." 

Sterling's The Terror Network is a running attack on liberation move- 
ments in the Third World. She doesn't discuss how the West sustains 
the conditions giving rise to them nor how it arms the military services 
and death squads designed to keep the Third World majorities in their 
place. Instead, she stresses the frequency with which these liberation 
movements allegedly fall into the hands of leftists who are tools of Mos- 
cow or one of its surrogates. Sterling demonstrates in The Terror Net- 
work how it is possible for a rightwing journalist, by carefully ignoring 
the massive violence and oppression of the terrorist states, and by con- 
fining her attention to rebel violence and alleged rebel links (via arms 
supply and training) to radical states, to make the terrorist states and 
their allies look like victims, and the true victims look like baddies, wit- 
tingly or unwittingly part of a plot to "destabilize Western Democ- 
racy"! 

It is interesting to see how Sterling deals with South Africa. She is 
careful not to smear the South African liberation movements directly 
and openly as terrorist, or to characterize the apartheid regime as fight- 
ing terrorism. But she does this indirectly. At no point does she discuss 
South African state terrorism against its black majority or its invasions 

14. Ibid., p 248. 

15. Ibid , p. (>8 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



129 



and subversive acts against its neighbors. Instead she focuses exclu- 
sively on alleged South African rebel ties to an external Red Network. 
Thus the implicit smear process contains the following sequence: Some 
rebels get some arms and training from the Soviet Union and its surro- 
gates; the Soviets aim to destabilize the "democracies"; all the recipi- 
ents of Soviet largesse are agents of a Communist Combat army; 16 there- 
fore, all of these liberation movements are tainted as elements of the 
master conspiracy. 

In The Terror Network Sterling brings in South Africa very cautious- 
ly, in a chapter on Henri Curiel, a Paris-based activist and supporter of 
Third World liberation movements, whom she tries to make out to be a 
KGB agent. (On her loss of a slander suit in Paris based on this accusa- 
tion, see below.) In the course of that chapter she writes that all the 
Palestinian terrorists could count on Curiel's support, and "so could the 
front-line guerrilla forces of southern Africa, regularly supplied by Sol- 
idarity [one of Curiel's organizations) with funds and clandestine equip- 
ment.'" 7 Elsewhere in the same chapter she discusses the case of the 
South African poet Breyton Breytenbach, who set up a printing plant for 
the South African underground "and was soon arrested under the an- 
literrorisl laws.""' (We may note in passing that Sterling doesn't use 
quote marks, comment, or provide a word of sarcasm on this usage — as 
she would perhaps if the Polish government arrested an underground 
Solidarity worker under "antiterrorism laws ") She goes on to say that 
just as an international campaign of appeal for Breytenbach was getting 
under way, he pleaded guilty. She doesn't say what he pleaded guilty 
to, but implies that this was meaningful, proving something like real 
guilt. She states that he later suggested to his brother that he had been 
"manipulated" in Paris; in Sterling's words, "Gradually the conviction 
grew on Breytenbach that Solidarite fronted for a deep underground ap- 
paratus providing technical services to international terrorist groups. " IV 
Sterling gives no source for this information, very possibly provided her 
by the South Afucan police. We may note also her seeming naivete on 
the "growing conviction" which apparently came upon Breytenbach in 
a South African prison. Although it is well publicized that "terrorists" 
are regularly tortured in South African prisons, Sterling takes Breyten- 
bach 's alleged reconsiderations at face value. 

16 Ibid., p 16 See the subsection on The Conspiratorial Imperative, below 

17. Ibid., p 54. 

18. Ibid , p 51 
19 Ibid , p 54. 



130 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



At the time Sterling wrote on Breytenbach's admission of guilt there 
was already in print an account of Breytenbach's trial in an Introduction 
by Andre Brink to a translation of Breytenbach's A Season in 
Paradise, 1 " which reads as follows: 

After more than two months in detention he was brought to court on eleven 
charges of what, in South Africa, passes for "terrorism." Many of the charges 
were patently ridiculous, aod the fact that all the persons charged with Breyten- 
bach were subsequently allowed to go scot-free seemed to corroborate this im- 
pression. However, Breytenbach's interrogators had succeeded, during his 
months of solitary confinement and constant interrogation, in convincing him 
that he might well qualify for the death sentence should he try to contest the 
charges in court. Consequently an arrangement was made whereby some of the 
more far-fetched charges were dropped, in return for a plea of guilty to all the 
others. The plea was accepted, with the result that a minimum of witnesses were 
called. 

Brink goes on to point out that in spite of this plea, Breytenbach got a 
nine-year sentence, that all appeal was refused, and that the documents 
in the case miraculously disappeared. Breytenbach himself, in a 1983 
autobiography, also contradicts Sterling in both letter and in spirit. His 
work is a crushing indictment of the South African system, which "is 
against the grain of everything that is beautiful and hopeful and dig- 
nified in human history. . . ," 21 Curiel, on the other hand, is one of 
Breytenbach's heroes, "an inspiring man: a limpid ideologue, and a 
man who remained committed to the better instincts in mankind." 22 
Speaking of George Suffert, the journalist who, based on intelligence 
leaks and forgeries, first attacked Curiel in print as a KGB agent, and on 
whom Sterling relies heavily, Breytenbach calls him a "cowardly 
French journalist ... the mouthpiece of the South African masters." 21 
And on his trial and confession, Breytenbach says that given "the at- 
mosphere of terror created by the powerful political police" his lawyers 
felt obliged to tread very lightly. Of his short statement read to the court 
in these circumstances, he says: "Read it — you will also hear the insidi- 

20. (New York: Persca Books. 1980), pp 10-1 I 

2 1 The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (New York: Farrar Slraus Giroux, 
1983), p. 73 
22. Ibid., p. 89 

23 Ibid . p. SI Suffer! had on (he (op of his list of "terrorist" organizations the Afri- 
can National Congress, which suggests that the South African secret police may have had 
a hand in assisting Suffert's "researches" land indirectly, Claire Sterling's work). 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



131 



ous voice of the controller in it." 24 

The main point, however, is that in her not very subtle way Claire 
Sterling succeeds in tarnishing South Africa's liberation movements by 
tying them to the KGB — with no solid facts, no numbers, no evidence 
that these ties, if they existed at all, were not marginal, and by relying 
heavily on South African police interrogations for evidence. Focusing 
on local South African conditions would suggest that the African Na- 
tional Congress is fighting a ferociously terroristic and antidemocratic 
regime in a thoroughly just cause. Sterling never allows such considera- 
tions to surface — South Africa is part of the Free World, and she dis- 
plays throughout her work a solidarity with it, its leaders, its secret 
police, and other similar terror regimes. 

Alt disagreements with her views are enemy propaganda and often 
traceable to the Kremlin. Just as the world of states is divided into 
blocs, so is the world of ideas. In criticizing Michael Dobbs of the 
Washington Post, for example. Sterling asserts that Dobbs 's statements 
lend "considerable credence to the Bulgarian argument. This is 
taken as sufficient to invalidate Dobbs's argument. It also implies as a 
matter of course that the Bulgarian contentions are incorrect. Sterling 
never for a moment allows that she could be wrong. 

In a speech on disinformation given in Paris on December 5, 1 984,-'* 
Sterling attacked the effort of Italian newspapers to link what we call the 
"second conspiracy" — the framing of the Bulgarians — to Ledeen, 
Pazienza, and the U.S. and Italian secret services. She does this, not by 
offering evidence, but by claiming to have traced the source of these al- 
legations to a Communist paper in Italy and a Communist disinforma- 
tion campaign. She does not give any evidence that these were the 
sources, or that the alleged disinformation campaign had any success, 
but she uses these assertions — essentially smears by association — to dis- 
credit an alternative line of thought. 27 

24. Ibid., p. 63. 

25 Claire Sterling, "The Attack on the Pope: There's More lo the Slory," Washington 
Post. August 7, 1984. 

26 This speech was given at a conference on disinformation sponsored by Inter- 
nationale de la Resistance, a coalition of rightwing resistance/'Miberation" organizations 
and related support networks from Europe and the United States. John Barron of Reader's 
Digest and Amaud de Borchgrave, an Adjunct Fellow of the Georgetown Center for Stra- 
tegic and International Studies, were also in attendance We are cuing an offprint put out 
by the sponsoring organization. 

27 Henze works the same way In The Plot to Kill the Pope he spends a great deal of 



132 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Uncritical use of disinformation sources. One of the main weapons of 
terrorism pseudoscience is the use of convenient facts from intelligence 
agencies and defectors (the latter often themselves creatures of the intel- 
ligence agencies). Sometimes this is done knowingly — "planned gulli- 
bility" — but it is often a reflection of the loss of critical capacity in the 
search for proof of that which the pseudoscientist knows by instinct. 

It is well established that all intelligence agencies will forge and plant 
documents and lie where useful and practicable, so that from at least one 
of them it is possible to obtain any desired "fact. ' ' Intelligence agencies 
also operate in an environment in which political "crazies" can survive 
and even flourish. For example, James Angleton, long-time CIA chief 
of counterintelligence, was firmly convinced that the apparent Chinese- 
Soviet hostility after 1959 was a conspiratorial deception to lull the 
West into a false sense of security. 28 What theory of Red Conspiracy 
would not be sincerely believed by some intelligence source and thus be 
confirmable for a Claire Sterling? 

In his book Deadly Deceits, former CIA officer Ralph McGehee 
states that the CIA has "lied continually," and that "Disinformation is 
a large part of its covert action responsibility, and the American people 
are the primary target of its lies." 3 * Philip Agee's Inside the Company 
provides dozens of examples of CIA sponsorship of violence, forging of 
documents, and planting of fabricated stories with conduit journalists, 

space on Soviet-Bulgarian responses to accusations of their involvement in the assassina- 
tion attempt Most of this is a venomous caricature, providing a straw man enabling 
Henze to attack weak arguments. More important, it also allows him to identify criticism 
of the Connection with the Enemy. In an article "From Azeff to Agca," in Survey, a 
Journal of East and West Studies. Autumn- Winter 1983, for example, he dismisses the 
present writers as Soviet apologists, based on their article critical of the Bulgarian Con- 
nection No evidence was given that they relied on Soviet sources or arguments, or that 
they have any ties to the Soviets It is enough for Henze that (heir article contested the 
Connection. 

In the same article Henze refers to the Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu as "well known 
as a purveyor of Soviet disinformation in Turkey." Mumcu, in fact, has been highly criti- 
cal of alleged Bulgarian involvement in the Turkish drug traffic, and he has rejected An- 
dronov's (Soviet) thesis that the CIA is behind the assassination attempt on the Pope. For 
the former CIA station chief in Turkey to be calling anybody else, let alone Mumcu, a dis- 
informationist is audacious, as we will discuss in the next section. 

28. See Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets (New York: Knopf, 1979), pp. 
63, 289, 350. 

29. Ralph McGehee, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA (New York: Sheridan 
Square Publications. 1982), p 192 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



133 



often for the purpose of demonstrating Cuban dirty tricks. 30 E. Howard 
Hunt, a long-time CIA agent working with the Nixon "plumbers," 
even forged a document, with CIA knowledge and logistical support, in 
a 1971 effort to embarrass Senator Edward Kennedy by publicly im- 
plicating John F. Kennedy in the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem of 
South Vietnam." If CIA operatives will lie to discredit a U.S. president 
for political purposes, of what would they be capable regarding foreign 
enemies? 

Although disinformation is one of her favorite words, to our knowl- 
edge Claire Sterling has never admitted that there is such a thing as 
western disinformation. In her Paris speech on disinformation, she as- 
serts with disdain that a Soviet author on the Bulgarian Connection, 
Iona Andronov, "is a colonel of the KGB attached for the duration of 
the Papal plot to the Literaturnaya Gazeta. . . ."" The implication is 
that, as a KGB officer, Andronov could hardly be taken seriously as a 
purveyor of information. Whatever the truth of her contention about An- 
dronov 's KGB affiliation, it is noteworthy that Paul Henze is not con- 
taminated in her eyes by his extensive intelligence career. In the Mani- 
chean world of Sterling and her associates, the intelligence agencies on 
our side do not lie, forge documents, or engage in disinformation strate- 
gies; only those on the enemy side do these things. Whether this is de- 
liberate suppression of known fact or the self-deception of the true be- 
liever, it makes Sterling a superb instrument of propaganda. 

Claire Sterling has long used, and served as a conduit for, the Free 
World's intelligence agencies. In The Terror Network, she has 37 cita- 
tions directly to intelligence sources, 31 of them anonymous, with still 
larger numbers of references to individuals and works that themselves 
depend heavily on intelligence sources (Brian Crozier, Robert Moss, 

30. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (New York: Stonehill, 1975), pp 
145-46, 279-81, 283-87, 292-95, 453-57, 468-69, 471-72. And see Warner Poelchau, 
ed . , White Paper Whitewash: Philip Agee on the CI A and El Salvador (New York: Deep 
Cover Publications, 1981), pp. 28-41. 

31. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover (New York: Putnam, 1974), pp. 178-81 And see 
Powers, op. cit., n. 28, pp 254-55; Poelchau, ed , op. cit., n. 30. p. 38. 

32. Op. cit., n 26. Andronov vigorously denies the charge, with considerable logic 
Sterling was apparently unaware that he had been, quite openly, the Literaturnaya Gazeta 
correspondent in the United States from 1972 to 1978, or that his work has appeared regu- 
larly in that newspaper for more than 15 years. Moreover, in 1985 he returned to New 
York to resume his foreign correspondent's work in this country, with the consent of the 
United States government. If anyone other than Claire Sterling thought he was a nefarious 
KGB colonel, is it likely he would have received such permission? 



134 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



John Barron)." Conor Cruise O'Brien observes in his review of The 
Terror Network that Sterling "consistently assumes that anything she is 
told by her western intelligence sources must be true. Her copious but 
naive footnotes often refer to unnamed intelligence sources, whose ver- 
acity she simply takes for granted." 14 

In her use of Italian intelligence sources, Sterling quotes frequently 
from reports of SISMI, an intelligence agency run for a number of years 
by General Santovito, a member of P-2 and a sponsor of Francesco 
Pazienza. P-2, as we have seen, was an illegal rightwing conspiracy that 
heavily infiltrated the Italian intelligence, police, and army and whose 
members were involved earlier in major disinformation efforts, includ- 
ing the forging and planting of documents. " Sterling always quotes a 
SISMI statement as authoritative fact, never as one from a potential dis- 
information source. Nowhere in The Terror Network, nor in The Time of 
the Assassins, does she so much as mention P-2 or the "strategy of ten- 
sion" pursued for many years by Italy's right wing, including elements 
of the security services. This non-discussion is essential to preserving 
the appearance of authenticity and integrity of handouts from SISMI. 

As we noted earlier, in The Terror Network Sterling also passed on 
the claims of unidentified "intelligence sources" that Henri Curiel was 
a KGB agent. Sterling's comrade-in-disinformation, Amaud de Borch- 
grave, asserted that it was an "open secret" in the intelligence world 
that Curiel was a KGB agent. 16 As Curiel had already been murdered by 
unknown assailants, his family and several associates sued Sterling for 
slander in the French courts. French secret police documents provided 

33 Philip Paull, International Terrorism: The Propaganda Wur, M A Thesis in Inter- 
national Relations, San Francisco State University, June 1982. p 73 

34 "The Roots of Terrorism," New Republic, July 25, 1981 When her sources say 
something convenient to her argument. Sterling's gullibility shows no limits O'Brien 
gives an excellent illustration in his review in discussing Sterling's treatment of the Irish 
Provos An even more spectacular example was her swallowing without blinking the 
"Tucuman Plan," supposedly prepared "underKGB supervision" in Argentina's Tucu- 
man province in May 1975, and calling for the mobilization of 1.500 Latin American "ter- 
rorists" to be sent to Europe for an orchestrated destabilization effort For a detailed dis- 
cussion of this and other illustrations of her use of intelligence disinformation, see Diana 
Johnstone. "Disinformation: The 'fright story' of Claire Sterling's tales of terrorism,'' In 
These Times, May 20-26, 1981 

35 See Chapter 4, pp 81-99 

36 See the letter to George Suffert by de Borchgravc, reproduced in Frank Brodhead 
and Edward S Herman, "The KGB Plot to Assassinate the Pope: A Case Study in Free 
World Disinformation," CoverlAction Information Bulletin. No 19 (Spring-Summer 
1983), p 15 



SIX: THE DIS1NFORMATIONISTS 



135 



in connection with this judicial proceeding showed no evidence what- 
soever of Curiel having a KGB connection. Thus, in this rare event 
where the cover of "confidential sources" was lifted by legal process, 
the western intelligence service closest to Curiel's activities revealed de 
Borchgrave and Sterling to be playing a disinformation role, perhaps 
serving as a conduit for the same intelligence service that organized 
Curiel's murder. Sterling lost one of the slander suits and was assessed a 
fine; another she slipped out of on legal technicalities and by the court's 
acceptance of her claim that she had not accused Curiel of being a KGB 
agent, but was merely presenting a "hypothesis."" The Curiel trials, 
which bear so clearly on Sterling's credibility, were reported upon only 
in the back pages of the Washington Post, and were unmentioned in the 
New York Times, Time, or Newsweek, or on the TV networks. 1 " 

Defectors are also a prime source of information for Sterling. The use 
and abuse of defector evidence is discussed in more detail in Appendix 
C, but we note here that Sterling's The Terror Network rests heavily on 
the testimony of General Jan Sejna, a Czech defector of 1968, who, ac- 
cording to Sterling, had defected "a jump ahead of the invading Soviet 
army" during the Czech Spring." This is a fabrication — Sejna was an 
old Stalinist who defected in the middle of the Czech Spring, ^ long be- 
fore the invasion, and in the midst of a corruption scandal in which 
Sejna was a principal."' Sejna was so forthcoming in his debriefings that 
the CIA finally decided to test his veracity by forging a document with 
elaborate but phony details on Soviet sponsorship of terrorism. Sejna 
immediately claimed the document to be authentic — it was one that had 
just slipped his mind! 42 Ten years later, Michael Ledeen got Sejna to re- 

37 See Jonathan Randal. "French Socialists Seek to Solve Slaying of Alleged Master 
Spy . " ' Washington Post, August 19, 1 98 1 , and ' 'Court in Paris Fines Author of Terrorism 
Book," Washington Post, March 30, 1982. Sterling made no effort in the Paris trial to 
prove the truth of her case by innuendo — she and her publisher used her reliance on the 
methodology of terrorism pseudoscience to disclaim having said anything definite 

38 In connection with the Curiel cases. Sterling was given unusual assistance by the 
CIA in aid of her defense against accusations of slander. See note 63 below 

39. Op. cit., n. 12, p. 290. 

40. According to Leslie Gelb, "The defector. Major Gen Jan Sejna, was said to have 
been closely associated with Antonin Novotny, the Stalinist party leader of Czecho- 
slovakia. The General fled to the United Stales in early 1968 after Mr. Novotny had been 
replaced by Alexander Dubcek, the leader of the short-lived liberalization period." 
"Soviet-Terror Ties Called Outdated," New York Times. October 18. 1981. 

41 . See Diana Johnstone, "The 'fright story' of Claire Sterling's tales of terrorism," In 
These Times. May 20-26, 1981. 

42. Lars-Erik Nelson. "The deep terror plot: a thickening of silence," New York Daily 



136 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



peat this scenario, and this evidence constitutes the heart of Sterling's 
proof of a Soviet terror network^ 1 This should have discredited Sterling 
completely and permanently , but she is under mass media protection for 
valuable services rendered and it appears that no fabrication or lunacy 
(see below under The Conspiratorial Imperative) can render her less 
than an authentic expert. 

The manipulation of evidence. Sterling's misuse of evidence assumes 
many forms. One is to twist words to alter meanings. In The Terror Net- 
work, for example, Sterling purports to quote directly from a CIA re- 
port:" 

"Warsaw Pact members' assistance to terrorists originates in Pankow (East 
Germany) and Prague,'' said the CIA in "International and Transnational Ter- 
rorism," April 1976, p. 21 of the CIA's Annual Report. 

What the CIA report actually says is: "In any event, the only hard 
evidence of Warsaw Pact member assistance to individuals associated 
with the Baader-Meinhof Gang points to Pankow and Prague." Ster- 
ling's bogus quote distorts the meaning of the real quote. The CIA re- 
port speaks of "the only hard evidence" of assistance to individuals 
"associated with" a specific terrorist group (as opposed to the more 
generic and broader-based usage of the word "terrorists"). The original 
does not say that Warsaw Pact assistance "originates" in Pankow and 
Prague as Sterling writes, but "points to" Pankow and Prague, a looser 
connection. If this is what happens to verifiable quotes in Sterling's 
work, what happens to those quotes which are not verifiable? 

Sterling's erroneous citations are numerous. In The Time of the As- 
sassins, for example, she says that Bulgaria was responsible for "four- 
fifths of the arms reaching the Middle East." 4 ' Her source for this 
whopper, the New York Times of February 9, 1983, actually states that 
Israeli intelligence authorities attributed to Bulgarian sources four-fifths 
of the weapons the Israelis had captured from the PLO. As another il- 

News. June 24, 1984, p. CI4. In 1981, when then Secretary of Stale Alexander Haig 
asked the CIA to "produce the kind of evidence that Ms. Sterling had cited in her book 

. . the CIA shamefacedly confessed that it was being asked to confirm its own phony 
document — and Haig had to let the issue drop." 

43. See The Terror Network, pp. 14. 34, 221 . 290-92. 

44 Ibid., p. 341. 

45 the Time of the Assassins, p. 2 1 1 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



137 



lustration, she states that a SISMI report describes the gun dealer Horst 
Grillmaier as having "traveled often to Syria, East Germany, and other 
countries of Eastern Europe." 4 * Looking up her reference, the SISMI 
report in question mentions Grillmaier in passing and does not say a 
word about his alleged travels to Syria and East Germany. 

Another form of manipulation of evidence is her selective use of 
some facts, her suppression of others, and her simple refusal to discuss 
conflicting facts. As we discuss below, Sterling attempts to tie the 
leftwing Minister of the Interior in the Ecevit government, Hasan Fehmi 
Gunes, to Agca's escape from a Turkish prison in 1 979. To show that he 
was a "leftist" she refers to him as a "Marxist" and mentions that his 
brother was a radical. The Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu, who knew 
Gunes well, says that Gunes never considered himself a Marxist and 
that the term was not properly applied to him. Mumcu also points out 
that Gunes had another brother, who was a conservative, whose exist- 
ence somehow escaped Sterling's notice." 

Another illustration of Sterling selectivity and suppression is her han- 
dling of Agca's letter in which he expressed his devotion to Tiirkes, the 
leader of the fascist Nationalist Action Party of Turkey. She and Henze 
do not like this letter, as it shows a rightwing political commitment that 
they consistently try to downplay as they strive to make Agca into a 
mercenary terrorist without politics. Sterling therefore dismisses the let- 
ter as a "laughably clumsy forgery.'""' A problem, however, is that this 
letter was introduced as evidence in a trial in Ankara by the Turkish mil- 
itary government, usually adequate proof for Sterling of authenticity. 
This provides considerable insight into Sterling's methods. On the one 
hand, if we have a "laughably clumsy forgery," what do we conclude 
about the quality of the Turkish judicial system that admits such a docu- 
ment into evidence? On the other hand, perhaps we should look more 
closely at the Turkish evidence, which Sterling does not find it conve- 
nient to do in this instance. Ugur Mumcu devotes five pages of his book 
Agca Dossier to a detailed account of the Tiirkes letter. He reports that 
the Turkish military government went to great pains to analyze its au- 
thenticity, putting it through many tests at the police laboratory and hir- 
ing an outside consultant from the Department of Graphic Arts at Istan- 
bul University to study the document. The conclusion on all sides was 

46 Ibid., p. 34. 

47 Ugur Mumcu. Papa. Mafya, Agca (Istanbul: Tekin Yayinevi, 1984), p 205. 
48. The Time of the Assassins, p. 70 



138 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



that the letter was authentic. 4 ' 

Equally interesting, Sterling mentions that after his arrest for shooting 
Ipekci, even after a week or so in the hands of the police, Agca appeared 
in court without the slightest evidence of police maltreatment, which 
Sterling remarks was "customary under whatever political regime in 
Turkey. " 50 When the military took over in 1980, torture was stepped up 
and many individuals died under torture. Neither Sterling nor Henze 
discuss this, nor do they allow it to qualify their faith in evidence from 
this source. So Sterling mentions police brutality when it serves her con- 
venience (here to suggest that maybe Agca was being protected from on 
high), but usually ignoring it in reference to a favored police state. 

In her Reader's Digest article, Sterling traced Agca's gun to the pre- 
viously mentioned Horst Grillmaier, an Austrian gun merchant who, ac- 
cording to Sterling, had fled behind the Iron Curtain after May 13, 
1981, to avoid questioning in the West. It turned out later that 
Grillmaier was a former Nazi who specialized in supplying rightwing 
gun-buyers; that he had not disappeared behind the Iron Curtain at all; 
and that the gun had gone through a number of intermediaries before Fi- 
nally being passed to Agca by a Gray Wolves friend. In the last pre-trial 
version of Agca's story, the Bulgarians supposedly gave him a package, 
including his gun, on May 13, 1981. Why would Agca have given up 
his gun to the Bulgarians, to have them return it to him on May 13? Why 
would the Bulgarians have had to go through all the transactions with 
Grillmaier and others to provide Agca with a gun, given their extensive 
facilities in Rome? 

Sterling handles the disintegration of the original Grillmaier line in 
typical Sterling fashion, by simply shifting to new conspiratorial 
ground. Thus instead of showing a Bulgarian Connection by 
Grillmaier' s eastern links, she tums things on their head — the sinister 
Bulgarians had Agca purchase a gun through a known fascist to 
strengthen the suggestion that Agca was a rightwinger who could not 
possibly be connected with the Communist powers! The Grillmaier 
readjustments show well that no matter what happens to facts, the Ster- 
ling methodology will yield the prescribed conclusions. 

Possibly the most enterprising Sterling innovation in her efforts to 
rationalize Agca's lies and retractions is her elaboration of a signaling 
theory. According to this theory, if Agca releases evidence on the Bul- 

49. Ugur Mumcu, Agca Dosyasi (Ankara: Tekin Yayinevi, 1984), pp. 106-10. 

50. The Time of the Assassins, p. 48. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATION1STS 



139 



garian Connection slowly, makes mistakes, or retracts evidence, he is 
trying to convey a message to his sponsors. He is warning them to do 
something, or that he will say more. The empirical foundation for this 
notion was Agca's behavior in the last days of his trial in Turkey for the 
shooting of lpekci, in October 1979, when he issued in court an explicit 
warning, that he had things to tell that some people would regret. Sev- 
eral days later the Gray Wolves heeded his message and he was escorted 
out of prison. According to Sterling, Agca adopted the same strategy 
after his imprisonment for shooting the Pope. The most important in- 
stance of Agca's alleged signaling in Rome came in June 1983, when a 
Vatican official's daughter, Emmanuela Orlandi, was abducted. A few 
days later, on June 28, Agca withdrew key elements of his previous tes- 
timony. To this day Sterling claims that by his renunciation Agca was 
signaling to his Bulgarian sponsors that he wanted to be either ex- 
changed or rescued from prison." 

There are many difficulties with the signaling theory as an explana- 
tion of Agca's behavior in Rome. For one thing, he delayed his signal- 
ing for a very long time. Why? Then when he started to talk, in May 
1982, he did so without any known prior signal; i.e., without warning 
his sponsors of his intentions (as in the lpekci case). Furthermore, in 
Rome neither the Gray Wolves nor the Bulgarians would be in a posi- 
tion to spring Agca in a prison break, and the idea that Agca would ex- 
pect the Bulgarians to bargain for his release is far-fetched. His crime 
was one for which the Italians would not be likely to engage in political 
bargaining for a release. Even more important, to bargain the Bulgar- 
ians would have to acknowledge openly their own involvement in the 
plot. On Sterling logic, the Bulgarian-KGB strategy was to establish 
enough distance from the hired killer to be able to make a case for non- 
involvement. Even Agca would realize that any signals to the Bulga- 
rians and Soviets would be fruitless. 

There are other problems with Sterling's signaling theory. Why did 
Agca produce inconsistent signals? While he retracted some of his 

S I See the discussion of the Emmanuela Orlandi case in Chapter 2, pp. 33-35. Agca 
eventually adopted the signaling theory himself. After a particularly bizarre series of ac- 
cusations and withdrawals while testifying in court, Agca refused to talk for several days. 
He then told the court that a kidnapping was part of a pre-arranged plan, and that "the 
Gray Wolves and the Bulgarians kidnapped Emmanuela Orlandi so that I would retract the 
accusations against them, confuse the trial, and then I was to discredit the western press. " 
("In New Account Agca Tells of a Fourth Turk at Shooting of John Paul," New York 
Times [AP], July 2, 1985 ) 



140 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



major claims just after the Orlandi kidnapping, he also made wild alle- 
gations of KGB and Bulgarian involvement in the assassination attempt 
at an impromptu press conference on July 8, 1983, just 10 days after his 
retraction. If he was trying to mend his fences with his would-be 
liberators on June 28, why would he publicly assail them shortly there- 
after? Furthermore, how would his sponsors-rescuers know that he had 
made his retractions, and, in effect, receive his signals?" They were not 
reported in the press at the time, and were made public only when the 
Albano Report was leaked a year later. 

Thus, the signaling hypothesis is neither plausible nor capable of ex- 
plaining the actual pattern of confessions, errors, and retractions. The 
coaching hypothesis fits comfortably. It explains Agca's slow start by 
the circumstance that initially he had nothing to confess about the Bul- 
garians. Later on, the pump was primed: Agca was first persuaded and/ 
or coerced to talk, and he was then given the basic data needed to get the 
Connection rolling. His enlarging "knowledge" came from the press, 
secret prison briefings, and other connections with the outside, as well 
as his own fertile imagination and quest for publicity. His retractions 
were the result of the disclosure of incompatible facts and contradictions 
that required the overworked slate to be tidied up. As we noted earlier, 
he mentioned Celenk only after reading a book by Mumcu on the Turk- 
ish-Bulgarian smuggling connection in which Celenk's name appeared. 
He withdrew his claim that his fleeing accomplice at St. Peter's Square 
on May 13 was the Bulgarian Aivazov only days after western reporters 
attending a press conference in Sofia were able to witness for them- 
selves (and report) that Aivazov 's physical characteristics were totally at 
odds with those of the individual in the photo. Agca's major retraction 
of June 1983, acknowledging that he had never met Mrs. Antonov or 
visited the Antonovs' apartment, followed press accounts of the defense 
counsel's having obtained substantial evidence that Mrs. Antonov had 
not been in Rome at the time of Agca's alleged rendezvous. 

A key element in Sterling's argument that the Pope plot was con- 
trolled by the Soviet Union has always been her account of the events 
surrounding Agca's escape from a Turkish prison in November 1979. 
Both in her original Reader's Digest article and in her later book she 
tries hard to tie that escape to a social democratic Minister of the Inte- 

52 We pointed out in Chapter 2 that the retraction preceded the kidnapper's demand 
that Agca be released. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



141 



rior, Hasan Fehmi Gunes, who she implies was complicit in Agca's 
prison break. Sterling says that "he [Agca] could not have done it with- 
out high level help." This is not true. It would seem quite possible to 
organize an escape if a prisoner has as allies a large number of the 
prison's guards and officers. And, in fact, the Gray Wolves and NAP 
were extremely well represented at Agca's prison. According to official 
accounts, about a dozen members of the Gray Wolves, three of them 
soldiers, dressed Agca in a military uniform and conducted him through 
eight security checkpoints to a waiting car. There is no doubt that this 
was a Gray Wolves operation, and in February 1982 three Gray Wolves 
conspirators were sentenced to prison by a Turkish martial law court for 
having helped Agca to escape. 

After noting that Gunes was a radical, Sterling points out that at his 
trial Agca "waited in what appeared to be the expectation of getting 
sprung," and in mid-October he told the court that he had been offered a 
deal by Gunes: If he admitted membership in the NAP he would get off. 
Two weeks later, says Sterling, Agca told the court that "1 did not kill 
Ipekci, but I know who did." He added "that he would reveal the true 
assassin's name at the court's next sitting. It was an explicit warning to 
his patrons to get him out," says Sterling, "and that is what they did." 

It is clear that Sterling is trying to implicate Gunes — "a radical well 
to the left of Ecevit" — in Agca's prison break. Her assertion that high 
level help was necessary, as we have seen, is not convincing. Further- 
more, she gives not a shred of evidence that Gunes had any Soviet ties 
or that he had anything to do with the escape. Finally , she either doesn ' t 
know or suppresses the important fact that Agca gave his courtroom 
speech at the very time when a new conservative government was being 
formed, after Ecevit's more liberal government had lost its parliamen- 
tary majority in mid-October. Thus, Agca's escape was engineered two 
weeks after Gunes had been replaced and a new conservative govern- 
ment — which had been a long-time ally of the Gray Wolves and NAP — 
had taken office. 

The press is being overwhelmed by KGB propaganda. A favorite theme 
of Sterling and her colleagues is that the press regularly plays into the 
hands of the enemy. Sterling uses the Bulgarian Connection as an illus- 
tration of the successes of KGB disinformation. In her Paris Conference 
speech. Sterling claimed that disbelief in the Connection was a result of a 
Soviet-inspired propaganda barrage. She noted that the Soviets sent the 
40-page book on the Plot by "KGB Colonel" Iona Andronov to "every 



142 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



important or unimportant journalist, columnist, newspaper commen- 
tator, television commentator, editor, of every western newspaper that I 
know of, in Europe and in the United States." This operation had great 
effect according to Sterling; disbelief in the Connection has become 
"the accepted position, the socially indispensable position. . . . Pro- 
digious effort and one of the world's most expert craftsmanship [sic] 
had gone into generating such doubts." 53 At no point does she present 
evidence that Andronov's work was read, or that it influenced anybody 
in the West. Its theme, that the CIA was behind Agca's assassination at- 
tempt, has never been espoused or taken seriously in any mainstream 
publication in the United States or Western Europe. Andronov's book 
has been mentioned in the western media solely in derogatory references 
by Claire Sterling and Paul Henze. 

Sterling asserts in The Time of the Assassins that if only she had ar- 
gued for a CIA connection, her message would have been welcome. She 
portrays herself as a latter-day Joan of Arc, fighting a lonely battle 
against the forces of the establishment."' If only she had taken the easy 
road and blamed things on the CIA, "my fortune would have been 
made" — but the indomitable Sterling was blaming it on the KGB, and 
this message was very hard for the American elite to swallow. Despite 
the lunatic quality of this assertion, no establishment book review or ar- 
ticle has ever noted the contradiction between Sterling's claims that she 
has been rejected by the U.S. political and media elite because of their 
detente-induced bias, and her obvious commercial and journalistic suc- 
cesses. 

Sterling's vision of the media stands the truth on its head. Western 
propaganda sources are vastly more powerful and believable in the West 
than Soviet sources, as exemplified by former CIA propaganda officer 
Henze's role and authority and alleged KGB officer Andronov's effec- 
tive nonexistence. Sterling and Henze are propaganda sources, or oper- 
ate in close collusion with them, and they have full access to the mass 
media. Furthermore, there is a will-to-believe in the villainy of the 

53. The Time of the Assassins, p. 141. 

54. Of course, she did have the benefit of generous funding from the Reader's Digest 
Association, and the built-in audience of many millions that it commands. Sterling herself 
notes in The Time of ihe Assassins that "It isn't every day that a reporter gets an offer like 
the one 1 had from Reader's Digest: take as long as you like . . . " (p 4). She gives spe- 
cific numbers for the cost of the ABC 20/20 program of May 13, 1983, which raised 
doubts about the Bulgarian Connection. In contrast, she never provides dollar figures for 
her own expenses or those of the NBC programs with which she was affiliated and which 
peddled her line 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



143 



enemy in every country. In the case of the Bulgarian Connection this has 
helped to overcome doubts that might arise from the absence of evi- 
dence and the implausible and shifting scenarios dispensed by Agca. It 
is in such a world that a Claire Sterling can thrive. 

The conspiratorial imperative. Another essential feature of terrorism 
pseudoscience is the elaboration of leftwing conspiracies. In The Terror 
Network the great conspiracy is of course the Soviet Union's attempt to 
destabilize the western democracies by aiding assorted dissidents and 
rebels. Sterling makes the blanket statement that all of these aided par- 
ties "come to see themselves as elite battalions in a worldwide Army of 
Communist Combat."" Terrorists aid one another and act as if unified. 
Killed terrorists "are unfailingly replaced," and defeats lead to changes 
in "pressure points," suggestive of a central planning body. 

She also says that there is "nothing random in this concentrated as- 
sault," noting that the Red Brigades, "who like to think that they speak 
for many or most of their kind . . . have even published a terror timeta- 
ble. " 56 Sterling doesn't tell us how she knows what the Red Brigades 
like to think, but the truly Sterlingesque trick here is her use of this 
phony Red Brigade spokesmanship and timetable to establish nonran- 
domness, to suggest that the Red Brigades really do speak for all recipi- 
ents of Soviet aid and that they all have a timetable! 

What is the proof that the Soviets aim to destabilize western democ- 
racies? Sterling has nothing in the way of evidence except a few stale as- 
sertions of defectors. Her claim is an ideological premise of terrorism 
pseudoscience. Would destabilization of the West benefit the Soviet 
Union? For Sterling the answer is obvious and she doesn't discuss it. 
And her proofs of Soviet sponsorship of destabilizing terror, by selec- 
tive illustration, all disintegrate upon close inspection. 

She tries hard, for example, to tie the KGB to the Italian Red 
Brigades, and to their assassination of former Italian Prime Minister 
Aldo Moro. But Moro was murdered precisely because of his role in en- 

55. The Terror Network, p. 16. Sterling later contradicts herself, noting that "Not all 
those who took the Cubans and Russians up on their aid offer were for sale, or even for 
rent. Many have proven to be a headache to their former benefactors " This suggests that 
some unknown but possibly very large fraction of those aided did not see themselves as a 
part of the "Army of Communist Combat," and that the Soviets didn't "control" the ter- 
ror network. Sterling even concedes at various points that there is no central direction, 
only "links," and arms sales (pp. 10, 16). But these contradictions don't interfere with 
reiteration of her incompatible generalization. 

56. Ibid., p. 7 



144 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



gineering the "Historic Compromise," that sought to bring the Com- 
munist Party into a greater role in governing Italy. The Red Brigades 
fought violently against the Italian Communist Party, and the Com- 
munist Party was the strongest proponent of a policy of harsh repression 
against the Red Brigades. The murder of Aldo Moro was a major set- 
back for the Communist Party and for ddtente. Was it in the interest of 
the Soviet Union to weaken the Italian Communist Party and ddtente? Is 
it not curious that killing Aldo Moro was a key element in a rightwing 
coup plan (Plan Solo) of 1964?" If the Red Brigades are an instrument 
of Soviet policy, is the Italian Communist Party not only independent of 
the Soviet Union but its actual enemy? Sterling never addresses any of 
these questions. 

Sterling and Henze claim, without presenting any evidence, that the 
Soviet Union was pouring resources into Turkey to ' 'destabilize' ' that 
country in the 1970s. Again, given the power of Turkey's military es- 
tablishment, wasn't this foolish, likely to produce a military coup domi- 
nated by anti-Soviet forces? Furthermore, the terrorist acts themselves 
were in the majority rightwing attacks and murders, largely against left- 
ist forces or areas. How would sponsoring rightwing terror help the 
Soviet Union? Sterling never tells us. She notes in The Terror Network 
that the military takeover of 1980 was "hardly in a manner living up to 
Soviet expectations." 58 It never occurs to Sterling that her understand- 
ing of Soviet expectations might be wrong and that the Soviet destabili- 
zation hypothesis, so conspicuously irrational and contrary to Soviet in- 
terests, might also be in error. 

Sterling argues that the Soviet motive for shooting the Pope was to 
stop the Solidarity movement. Apart from its other deficiencies of logic 
and evidence, 59 this argument fails because shooting the Pope could not 
reasonably have been expected to stop the Solidarity movement. Fur- 
thermore, the risks involved in such an action would be very great, in- 
cluding the high probability that the shooting would be attributed to the 
Soviet Bloc. In their rational self-interest Soviet officials would have 
anticipated this and avoided any such risky and exceptionally stupid 
ventures. 60 

57. S»e Chapter 4, p. 79. 

58. The Terror Network, p. 245. 

59. See Chapter 2, pp. 14-15. 

60 In Sterling's version of her interview with former Turkish Interior Minister Gunes, 
he made the point that, given the predictable results of an assassination attempt — that is, 
ready accusations and blame accruing to the Soviets — it would be a plausible rightwing 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



145 



The most remarkable conspiracy doctrine in Sterling's works is her 
contention that the truth of the Bulgarian Connection has had to pene- 
trate a longstanding "western intelligence shield" protecting the Soviet 
Union, which for many years has been concealing f rom public view the 
truth about Soviet terrorism. 61 The reason for the establishment coverup 
is that the truth was too shocking and would disturb international 
equilibrium and detente. 

These contentions are crackpot nonsense. In order to facilitate its 
rearmament program and to help place new missiles in Europe, from 
1981 onward the Reagan administration desperately sought means of 
portraying the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire. The Bulgarian Connec- 
tion was exceptionally helpful in achieving that objective. If the absurd 
notion that Reagan seeks to protect detente failed to dent Sterling's cred- 
ibility in the United States, it is a testimonial to the establishment's tol- 
erance of congenial and serviceable propaganda. 

What are we to make of the expressions of doubts about the Bulgarian 
Connection by the CIA and other government officials, and their refusal 
to embark on a massive propaganda campaign? One reason for their 
caution is that many officials probably knew that the Connection was a 
creation of Sterling, Henze, and the Italian secret services, and was thus 
unsustainable in the long run. The wise strategy, therefore, was to allow 
and encourage Sterling and her propaganda cohorts to milk the Plot for 
all it was worth, while the Reagan administration remained publicly un- 
committed and ambivalent. This would permit a great deal of publicity, 
some even generated by debates between the Sterling forces and the am- 
bivalent CIA, while giving the government an emergency exit. 

A second reason for U.S. government caution is that it makes the CIA 
a "moderate" critic in the debates on the truth or falsity of the Connec- 
tion. With Sterling, Henze, Senator Alfonse D'Amato, and Zbigniew 
Brzezinski accusing the CIA of dragging its feet, the CIA becomes an 
anti-establishment truth seeker (which it is not) rather than an instru- 
ment of the administration (which it is). Thus the debate on the case can 
be reasonably restricted to Sterling and company on the right and the 
CIA on the left." 

move, "to provoke a Polish revolt, and pull Poland out ot the Warsaw Pact " The Time of 
the Assassins, p. 79. Sterling Fails to discuss the point, as usual refusing to consider alter- 
native hypotheses or the weaknesses of her own 

61 Although this point is strewn throughout her The Time of the Assassins, it is fea- 
tured prominently in an exclusive interview with Sterling entitled "Why is the West Cov- 
ering Up for Agca." Human Events, April 21 , 1984 

62 See the discussion in Chapter 7 of Robert Tolh' s article in the Los Angeles Times on 



146 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



A third reason for U.S. government reticence in commenting on the 
Connection was that the case was still being adjudicated in the Italian 
courts. For the U.S. government to organize an open press campaign ar- 
guing KGB guilt would be a blatant interference with the Italian legal 
process and would therefore be badly conceived even as a public rela- 
tions strategy. 

A final reason for official U.S. restraint is that the public relations job 
was being handled very well by the private sector, led by Claire Sterling 
and her friends. As we will describe in the next chapter, they dominated 
the media and established the Bulgarian Connection as true for the gen- 
eral public. Further government inputs have been unneeded. We believe 
that Sterling and her friends are well regarded by the administration and 
served a key role in propagandizing the case exactly as the administra- 
tion desired. Sterling's assertions of administration and CIA cowardice 
are understood to be the crankish outbursts of a very serviceable instru- 
ment, who has an important part to play in a common enterprise. 63 



Paul Henze: "Specialist in U.S. Propaganda" 



Paul Henze began his long CIA career under Defense Department cover 
as a "foreign affairs adviser" in 1950. Two years later, he began a six- 
year hitch as a policy adviser to Radio Free Europe (RFE) in Munich, 
West Germany." By 1969, Henze was CIA chief of station in Ethiopia, 

CIA opinion on the case and the Sterling reaction. This was in Tact the lineup of contes- 
tants organized on a MacNeil/Lehrer program in January 1983. 

63. In spite of her attacks on the CIA for cowardice and footdragging, the CIA entered 
into an agreement with Sterling to help her out of her legal difficulties in the Curiel case. 
By a signed agreement of March 24, 1983, the CIA provided Sterling with an Affidavit 
verifying that the published document "International Terrorism in 1978" from which 
Sterling had quoted was in fact an official CIA document, and that, going beyond the as- 
sertions of the 1978 report, the CIA was prepared to swear that Curiel "headed an appa- 
ratus that provided technical support to groups that engaged in terrorist acts." The CIA 
also agreed to provide Sterling with any documents subsequently released to anybody else 
on Curiel under the Freedom of Inf ormation Act. As Sterling's counsel noted in a letter to 
Sterling dated March 24, 1978, "That means that you do not have to wait on the Freedom 
of Information Act line. The Office of General Counsel [of the CIA] will tag your file and 
respond expeditiously." It is not everybody that gets this kind of expedited and special 
service from the CIA. 

64. Inthe early 1970s, a time of increased interest in the activities of U.S. intelligence 
agencies, it was learned that the Munich-based RFE of the 1950s was controlled by the 
CIA, which managed RFE's Cold War propaganda. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATION1STS 



147 



and he served as station chief in Turkey from 1974 through 1977. When 
Zbigniew Brzezinski assembled his National Security Council team for 
President Jimmy Carter, Henze was hired as the CIA's representative to 
the NSC office in the White House. Throughout Henze 's determined 
media campaign to link the Soviet Union to the shooting of the Pope, in- 
cluding his articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science 
Monitor, and in his regular appearances on the MacNeil/Lehrer News 
Hour, Henze has consistently refused to allow himself to be identified as 
a former career officer of the CIA." A case in point is the jacket cover 
of his book, The Plot to Kill the Pope, where Henze is described as fol- 
lows: 

Paul Henze spent thirty years in various government and government-related or- 
ganizations, including Radio Free Europe and U.S. Embassies in Ethiopia and 
Turkey. During 1977-1980 he was a key member of Zbigniew Brzezinski's Na- 
tional Security Council Staff. Since his retirement from government, Henze has 
been a free-lance writer, lecturer, and business consultant. 

Thus, Henze' s readers are not informed that his position in the "U.S. 
Embassies in Ethiopia and Turkey" was as CIA station chief, and that 
as "a key member of Zbigniew Brzezinski's National Security Council 
Staff he was the CIA liaison to the White House. In addition, even 
though much of his book is written in the first person narrative style 
("The sun had just set, bringing to an end a cool, bright autumn day 
when I stepped off the bus near the central square of Malatya. ... I had 
come to probe Mehmet Ali Agca's background"), there isn't a single 
word from Henze about his CIA career in Turkey or anywhere else. 

Henze and the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB). In May 
1 980 four members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Frank 
Church of Idaho, Jacob Javits of New York, Claibome Pell of Rhode Is- 
land, and Charles Percy of Illinois — wrote a letter of protest to President 
Jimmy Carter concerning certain proposed appointments to the Board 

65. We were informed by one TV network producer that as a condition for his participa- 
tion in a program Henze requires that his long association with the CIA not be mentioned. 
Another network official told us that Henze. like Sterling (see note I, above), will not par- 
ticipate in a program where a seriously dissenting view would be expressed. Beyond this, 
he insists on control over the script, which helps explain why he is never asked embarrass- 
ing or penetrating questions (see the analysis of the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour treatment 
of the Bulgarian Connection in Chapter 7). The stations, networks, and printed media that 
go along with these demands are committing serious acts of suppression and deception on 
the public. 



148 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



for International Broadcasting (BIB). The BIB was created by Congress 
in 1973 to oversee the operations of the two U.S. government-operated 
radio stations based in Munich, West Germany: Radio Free Europe 
(RFE) and Radio Liberty (RL). The BIB had been organized following 
disclosures that the CIA was behind the two radio stations. The senators 
complained that "former intelligence officials are trying to redirect the 
board away from its oversight role to one more compatible with the two 
stations' old role as a tool for propaganda." 

The former CIA official within the Carter administration "trying to 
redirect" the BIB was Paul Henze, described by the New York Times as 
"the National Security Council specialist on United States prop- 
aganda." Henze had been the policy adviser at RFE when it was con- 
trolled by the CIA. The BIB controversy centered around two Henze 
nominees to fill vacancies on the board. This was an effort, according to 
the senators, "to make the board more responsible to the National Secu- 
rity Council," i.e., to Henze. One of Henze's nominees, Leo Cheme, 
reportedly received CIA money in the 1960s. The senators commented 
in their letter: 6 * 

We believe that the work of a decade in assuring the professional integrity of 
RFE/RL would be undone if any of the present members were to be replaced by 
persons who could even be remotely identified as presently or formerly as- 
sociated with the CIA or intelligence activities in any capacity. 

It is profoundly ironical that Henze's attempt to influence the over- 
sight authority of the BIB was strongly opposed by the senators on the 
ground that broadcast integrity demanded a severed relationship be- 
tween news journalism and intelligence officials. In sharp contrast, 
there has been no audible protest, or even minimal disclosure, as this in- 
telligence figure became a leading mass media source of information on 
the Bulgarian Connection. 

Henze and the Media. Henze was the first prominent American to ac- 
cuse the Soviets in print of conspiring to shoot Pope John Paul II. His 
November 1981 article in Atlantic Community, in which he made this 
charge, provided no evidence to show that the Soviets had anything to 
do with the shooting. For Henze, however, the question of evidence was 

66. Quoted by A. O. Sulzberger, Jr., "U.S Overseas Radio Stirs Dispute Again," 
New York Times. May 15, 1980 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



149 



an unpatriotic consideration in discussing hypothetical Soviet crimes: 67 

The extent to which the Soviet Union has encouraged, underwritten, and insti- 
gated political destabilization is a complex and widely debated question. I be- 
lieve we are past the point where it serves the interests of any party except the 
Soviets to adopt the minimalist, legalistic approach which argues that if there is 
no "documentary evidence" or some other form of incontrovertible proof that 
the Government of the U.S.S.R. is behind something, we must assume that it is 
not. 

Although this article played an insignificant role in U.S. media cover- 
age of the investigation into the shooting, it is important because it 
openly denies the need for documentation in a case where Henze was 
shortly to become a leading source of evidence for the Free World's 
media. As Philip Taubman and Leslie Gelb noted in the New York Times 
shortly after the arrest of Antonov: 68 

Several former government officials, including Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary 
of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, na- 
tional security advisor to President Carter, have said that they believe that Bul- 
garia and the Soviet Union were involved in the assassination attempt. 

Support for this theory has come from Paul Henze, a former CIA station chief 
in Turkey and an aide to Mr. Brzezinski. Mr. Henze, now a consultant to the 
Rand Corporation, was hired by the Reader's Digest after the shooting of the 
Pope to investigate Mr. Agca's background. 

Mr. Henze's findings, which included information about links between Mr. 
Agca and Bulgaria as well as the Soviet Union's use of Bulgaria as a surrogate 
to spread unrest in Turkey, were incorporated in a Reader's Digest article on the 
shooting of the Pope that was written by Claire Sterling and published last Sep- 
tember. 

Mr. Henze said he later sold his reports to NBC-News and Newsweek, which 
have explored possible Bulgarian and Soviet involvement. Mr. Henze made his 
research material available to the New York Times for a fee. 

In brief, Henze's researches were incorporated into virtually all of the 
major mass media pieces which introduced the Bulgarian Connection to 
a U.S. mass audience and established the Plot's hegemonic position in 
the U.S. media: Claire Sterling's article in the Reader's Digest of Sep- 

67. Paul Henze, "The Long Effort (o Destabilize Turkey." Atlantic Community, 
Winter 1981-1982, p. 468. 

68. "U.S. Officials See A Bulgarian 'Link'," New York Times, January 27, 1983. 



150 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



tember 1982; Marvin Kalb's special White Paper broadcasts in Sep- 
tember 1982 and January 1983; and the Newsweek cover story of Janu- 
ary 3, 1983. 

Thus, Paul Henze, long-time CIA officer and specialist on prop- 
aganda, who had openly denied the need for hard evidence in supporting 
accusations against the Soviets, was probably the most important indi- 
vidual source of information for the U.S. media in its coverage of the al- 
leged Soviet-Bloc conspiracy. Furthermore, having helped generate the 
Connection, Henze was then used by the media to confirm the truth of 
the Plot. He was a prime mover in establishing the "echo chamber ef- 
fect," whereby the originators of disinformation on the Bulgarian Con- 
nection were then called upon by the mass media to verify its accuracy. 

Henze and Turkey. Henze's unsuitability as a media expert on the Bul- 
garian Connection is strikingly revealed in his writings on Turkey. We 
discuss them briefly here because they display not only his uncritical at- 
tachment to the Turkish military regime and his apologetics for state ter- 
rorism — if advantageous to U .S. interests — but also his lack of self-dis- 
cipline as a purported journalist or analyst. 69 Henze's basic methodolog- 
ical precepts are: Anything helping my cause I will accept and 
rationalize; anything hostile to it is not only wrong but is probably 
Soviet disinformation. This methodology was transferred intact to his 
analysis of the Bulgarian Connection. 

On the quality of the Turkish martial law regime, Henze is rapturous. 
Assessing the military takeover of September 12, 1980, he writes: "The 
country heaved a collective sigh of relief. There was no resistance. In- 
stead there was jubilation. With quarreling politicians silenced and mas- 
sive arrests of terrorists, the country quickly returned to order. ' ,7 ° Note 
the rhetorical "collective sigh," the implication that a lack of resistance 
was a mark of general approval, and the enthusiasm for stilling quarrels 
among unruly politicians (a normal characteristic of nonauthoritarian 
states). In a letter to the New York Times a year and a half after the coup, 
Henze said that "evidence of political oppression is hard to And in Tur- 
key," and he claimed that "to a man I have found Turks enthusiastic" 
about economic developments. He maintained that the new process of 

69. The Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu, after recounting a series of episodes in which 
Henze told plain lies, suggests that Henze is not only a bad journalist, but could hardly 
even serve as a quality intelligence agent! Ugur Mumcu, Papa, Mafya, Agca (Istanbul: 
Tekin Yayinevi, 1984). p. 230. 

70. Paul Henze. The Plot To Kill! he Pope (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985). 
p. 40. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



151 



"devising a more viable democratic system, which is now under way, 
has the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. ' In the 
1985 revision of The Plot To Kill the Pope, Henze makes no qualifica- 
tion to his comprehensive apologetic for the martial law regime. 

Henze's fondness for martial law Turkey may help us understand his 
statement that "In reality fascism is no force in Italy. Communism 
is." 72 We showed in Chapter 4 that fascism is an enormous force in 
Italy, extensively organized within the security forces and state appa- 
ratus, and involved in numerous subversive attempts at coups and ter- 
rorist activities over the past several decades. We may interpret Henze's 
statement that fascism is no force to be partly simple misrepresentation 
of fact. But it is also a reflection of his belief that fascism is no threat. 
Something is not a threat if you like it and if your country regularly 
builds it up as an asset to contain other groups. The military in Turkey 
was not a threat, it was an agent of stability. We would wager that 
Henze did not view the military as a threat in Greece before (or after) 
1967. 

Nowhere in his letter or book does Henze mention torture in reference 
to Turkey. He says exactly what a public relations spokesman for the 
military regime would say, and when he runs into insurmountable diffi- 
culties he resorts to silence or smears. 73 A report by Amnesty Interna- 
tional released in July 1985 states that the torture of political detainees 
in Turkey continues to be "widespread and systematic." The report 
provides detailed testimony on the use of electric shocks, beating of the 
soles of the feet, burning with cigarettes, hangings for long periods of 
time, assaults with truncheons, and violence directed to the sexual or- 
gans. 74 According to Helsinki Watch: 75 

71. Letter published on February 22, 1982. 

72. The Plot to Kill the Pope, p. 65. 

73. In his February 22, 1982 letter to the Ne w York Times, attacking five prominent 
U.S. critics of the Turkish military regime, Henze wrote: "The judgments about the cur- 
rent situation in Turkey which the five professors in the social sciences express in their let- 
ter are almost identical to those which Pravda prints." Thisis typical Henze (see his refer- 
ences to the present authors and Mumcu in note 27. above) It results in part from the ex- 
treme Manicheanism that Henze shares with Sterling, Ledeen, and their colleagues. It is 
also a part of their program of deliberately tarring all opposition as part of an immense 
Soviet disinformation campaign. It is. of course, very convenient to be able to dismiss any 
hostile point as a product of insidious enemy propaganda. 

74. Amnesty International, Turkey: Testimony on Torture (London: AI, 1985). 

75. Helsinki Watch, Ten Years Later: Violations of the Helsinki Accords (New York: 
Helsinki Watch, 1985), pp. 140-41. 



152 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Under torture, which is used routinely during interrogation to gather informa- 
tion about terrorist movements, individuals are often forced to confess any 
crime and to name as many individuals as possible. In this way, thousands of 
people — particularly young people — have been gathered into police stations and 
military jails. Many were convicted on the basis of "confessions" obtained 
through torture or upon the testimony of other tortured victims. 

Ali Briand, a correspondent for Milliyet, claims that between 1980 
and 1984 178,565 people were detained, 65,505 were arrested, 41,727 
were condemned for political motives, 326 were sentenced to death, and 
25 were executed. 1 * Henze mentions in his book that the martial law 
government had arrested "43 , 1 40 terrorists and terrorist collaborators , ' ' 
and he notes that "during much of 1982, the national television service, 
TRT-TV, broadcast almost nightly roundups of confessions and pro- 
ceedings at trials of terrorists in all parts of the country." 77 Henze takes 
all of this at face value — the people taken are all "terrorists," and their 
confessions are all bona Tide. 

Regarding Henze's claim of the overwhelming support for the more 
"viable democracy" being installed by the military government, it is 
notable that when the opportunity arrived for the Turkish people to pass 
judgment on the military government in the 1983 parliamentary elec- 
tions, the party supported by the military finished last. Referring to the 
1983 Turkish election, Helsinki Watch reported: "The Turkish people 
overwhelmingly rejected the military-backed party and gave their sup- 
port to the Motherland Party, which in the absence of any real opposi- 
tion, was the only alternative to the junta." Before permitting elections 
to occur in the first place, the military regime had forbidden all previ- 
ously established political parties and politicians from participating in 
the election: 12 of the 15 political parties that sought to participate were 
banned. This arrangement assured that the winning party or coalition 
would be acceptable to the generals and would be prepared to abide by 
the rules that they had already built into Turkey's now "viable demo- 
cratic" system. 

The generals also rigged the election by institutionalizing their power 
through a new constitution, which legalized the extension of martial law 
in many provinces and guaranteed the continued presidency of General 
Kenan Evren until at least 1989. The military was to be the real behind- 
the-scenes government that defined the rules of the political game. Part 

76 Ibid., p. 138. 

77 Henze, op. tit., n 70, pp. 62-63. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



153 



of these rules were the 631 laws it had enacted following the 1980 
takeover, which could not be changed or criticized by the new Turkish 
parliament. On January 28, 1984, the Washington Post reported the 
consequences of the new constitution and press laws: 

Bound by these limits, the OzaJ government is seen by many observers here as 
no more than a token step in the direction of democratic civilian rule, with little 
chance of exercising more than a moral influence on Evren and the determined 
officers who joined him in the military coup of 1980. 

As noted, Henze cites without qualms or qualifications the evidence 
of Turkish prisoners who "confess." Similarly, if the Turkish military 
government claims that its arrests and censorship of writers and jour- 
nalists are based on the latter's support of "terrorism," Henze raises no 
questions. He also takes the government's announced discoveries of 
weapons caches at face value, using them to implicate the accused or- 
ganizations in terror and subversion: "Most of them [the weapons] were 
discovered in hideouts in former 'liberated areas' in premises of organi- 
zations such as TOBDER [a teachers' union], DISK [a major trade 
union organization], and groups associated with the National [sic] Ac- 
tion Party." 78 Helsinki Watch points out that these claims of discoveries 
of weapons caches, which are used as the basis for fresh waves of ar- 
rests, are never verified by independent investigation. Henze never ad- 
dresses the question of the validity of the government pronouncements 
or their possible use as disinformation and propaganda. Given the fact 
that Henze is a long-time professional propagandist, this uncritical use 
of contaminated materials must be a conscious act, and one serving a 
propaganda function. 

Just as everything the Turkish military government says is taken as 
true, the other side of the coin is Henze 's reliance on assertion without 
evidence to castigate the Enemy. A central feature of Henze 's writings 
is his claim that in the 1970s Turkey was the victim of a comprehensive 
Soviet plan for destabilization through terrorism. He asserts that ' 'The 
Soviet modus operandi included multi-faceted infiltration and build-up 
of rightist groups to serve as a foil for the left and accelerate the de- 
stabilization process." 1 ' He cites no independent evidence to support 

78 Ibid., p 6 1 . Ugur Mumcu stales that Henze's comments on TOBDER and DISK as 
terrorist organizations "are based on straightforward lies. " Mumcu, op. cii.. n. 69, p. 
230 

79 Henze. op. cil . n 70, pp. 63-64 



154 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



these claims, nor does he explain how the alleged Soviet plan would 
serve Soviet interests. Proof that the Soviets provided arms is that 
"there is no other logical source," 80 whatever the trademark of weapons 
manufacture. There are other "logical" sources, but Henze does not 
discuss them. By what logic would the Soviet Union support right- 
wingers as a "foil" for destabilization, when strengthening the Right 
would shift the balance of power toward an adverse result — a 
crackdown by the rightwing and pro-NATO military — which did in fact 
occur? Henze never bothers to explain. The fact is that the real benefi- 
ciary of the decade of terrorism was not the Soviet Union, but rather the 
United States, as Henze himself acknowledges — "Turkey's relations 
with her NATO allies were probably, on balance, strengthened rather 
than weakened by terrorism" — without awareness of his internal con- 
tradictions." 

Given the results of the decade of terrorism, the question arises 
whether it might have been the beneficiary — the United States — who 
sponsored terrorism. Henze never mentions U.S. intervention and de- 
stabilization efforts in Turkey. As we discussed in Chapter 3, however, 
U.S. intervention in that country was massive and its links to terror 
groups clearer than any Soviet connections. Henze is perhaps con- 
strained in discussing these U.S. activities, not only from his political 
commitments, but also because he was an actor in the events of the ter- 
ror years. In the spring of 1985, former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent 
Ecevit was quoted in the Italian weekly Panorama as saying that he was 
certain that Henze, as the CIA station chief in Turkey in the 1970s, was 
a behind-the-scenes organizer of rightwing violence and massacres in 
those years. " ! The United Stales had been upset with Ecevit, who pur- 
sued a policy of detente with the Soviet Union and closed the U.S. mili- 
tary bases in 1975 after the U.S. arms embargo following the Turkish 
invasion of Cyprus. The U.S. "loss" of Iran in 1978-79 greatly in- 
creased the strategic importance of Turkey and its facilities. Turkey's 
reliability as a military partner and host to key U.S. surveillance posts 
was only reestablished following the outbreak of terrorism that led in 
turn to the military coup of 1980. This pattern of alleged Soviet-spon- 
sored terrorism, with the United States consistently reaping valuable 
gains in consequence of these foolish Soviet acts, recurs in the Bulgar- 
ian Connection. Henze, of course, never addresses this paradox. 

80 Ibid., p. fi2 

81. Ibid., pp. 51-52 

82 Panorama, May 26. 1985. p 107 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



155 



Henze on the Bulgarian Connection. Henze has devoted considerable 
energy to proving that Agca is neither unbalanced nor a fascist, as this is 
important for making him a credible witness. Given Agca's courtroom 
performance and repeated claims to be Jesus Christ, it is useful to have 
Henze's assurance that "He [Agca] was too rational, too proud to be 
able to make himself appear deranged." 83 In his proof of Agca's lack of 
political commitment, Henze cites a neutral statement by Agca's brother 
Adnan, but suppresses Adnan's highly political explanation reported in 
Newsweek, that Agca wanted to kill the Pope "because of his conviction 
that the Christians have imperialist designs against the Muslim world 
and are doing injustices to the Islamic countries."" 4 Although Agca 
spent the better part of his life with Gray Wolves, this has no evidentiary 
value for Henze. Agca's friends like Gray Wolves militant Oral Celik 
are only "allegedly" rightists, who were "claimed to have been" close 
f riends of Agca's ."' Henze's standards of proof here are greatly different 
from those required to demonstrate Agca's alleged Bulgarian links. 

Henze attributes all of the voluminous evidence tying Agca to the 
Turkish Right to Soviet disinformation. For example, after the Ipekci 
murder Agca was arrested at the Marmora cafe, a Gray Wolves hang- 
out. Henze says: "It was almost as if the arrest had been staged to sub- 
stantiate the impression that Ipekci had been killed by the extreme right, 
at the connivance of Alparslan Tiirkes. " 86 This is a wonderful illustra- 
tion of terrorism pseudoscience, which allows its user to make a point 
by purely verbal manipulation. Note the "almost as if," which is gib- 
berish, but which allows Henze to suggest that the arrest at the cafe was 
arranged by the Reds to give the impression that the Right was involved 
in the Ipekci shooting. There is, of course, no evidence I or this, and it is 
absurd in that Agca was well-known in Turkey as a rightist without hav- 
ing to be arrested at the Marmora. (Henze uses this bit of pseudoscience 
to influence an American audience, not one in Turkey.) The technique 
used here is to attribute a "cover" in any situation in which we want a 
role reversal. As another illustration, Henze says that Agca's connec- 
tions with Celebi in Frankfurt, West Germany, "which on the surface 
appeared rightwing," were in fact a rightwing cover for Red control." 7 
No evidence is provided that the surface was not the reality. Further- 

83. Henze, op. cit., n 70, p 7. See also p. 41 

84. Newsweek, May 25. 1981 

85 Henze, op. cil., n. 70, p 147 

86. Ibid., p. 148. 

87. Ibid., p. 160 



156 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



more, within a week after the shooting of the Pope in Rome, Celebi 
called a press conference to announce that while Agca's attack might 
create the appearance of Gray Wolves involvement, in fact the Bulgar- 
ians and KGB were behind the assassination attempt. Henze does not 
mention Celebi 's press conference, but his and Sterling's methodology 
can cope with it (or anything else). 88 

Henze's method is also illuminated by his analysis of the 1979 threat 
by Agca to kill the Pope in Turkey. He tells us that Agca's letter 
threatening the Pope was very probably written under Bulgarian instruc- 
tions and was "his first open move toward implementing a plan that 
could have been developing for nearly a year. ' "* Henze offers no evi- 
dence for this scenario; it is entirely hypothetical. The fine-tuning by the 
KGB was remarkable: They supposedly anticipated the Solidarity crisis 
by hiring Agca well in advance and got him to make threats as a cover 
several years before the actual assassination attempt. Still more remark- 
able, the KGB organized the right wing press to denounce the Pope's 
visit, to give the further impression that the Turkish Right was hostile to 
the Pope and the things he stands for. 90 Why, with all this fine-tuning, 
the KGB then sent Agca for a long, visible stay in Sofia, and used a 
legion of Bulgarian employees to help Agca in Rome, is a puzzle. 
Henze's position is that the KGB got careless after its numerous "suc- 
cesses" in Italy, but he never explains the contrast between the careful 
planning in Turkey and the foolishness elsewhere. 

Although the key to demonstrating a Bulgarian Connection is pre- 
sumably to be found in Agca's supposed links with the three Bulgarians 
charged with conspiracy to shoot the Pope, only four and a half pages of 
Henze's 217-page book are devoted to developing an actual Agca-Bul- 
garian link — two pages for the "Bulgarian Connection in Rome" and 
two and a half pages for "Bulgarian Big Brothers." Henze's first at- 
tempt to link Agca directly with the Bulgarians proceeds as follows: 9 ' 

Agca made his way back to Rome. There he was no longer on his own but in 

88 They would cope wi(h it as follows: Celebi was using a double deception in which, 
while on the surface this rightist denied involvement and blamed the KGB, in reality he 
did this because he knew he would be disbelieved By blaming the KGB he helped exon- 
erate it! 

89. Henze, op cil , n. 70, pp. 204-05. 

90 Henze denies that the rightwing press was hostile to the Pope's visit. Ugur Mumcu, 
however, gives numerous citations from the rightwing Turkish press of the time to demon- 
strate that Henze was telling another whopper. Mumcu. op. cil., n. 69, pp. 213-20. 

91 Henze, op. cil.. n 70. p. 171 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



157 



direct contact with Bulgarian intelligence officials. According to his statements 
to the Italian authorities in the summer of 1982, Agca met with these Bulgarians 
at the Hotel Archimede in early January 1981 to discuss the assassination of 
Lech Walesa. The talk was of blowing up his car it seems. 

As there has never been anything in the way of evidence or eyewit- 
nesses linking Agca to Bulgarians, Henze relies entirely on Agca's own 
story. Agca eventually withdrew his claims that a plan to assassinate 
Walesa had materialized, or that a meeting at the Hotel Archimede ever 
took place, and he recanted on other major contentions that had been 
used to confirm his links to Bulgarians. The 1985 edition of Henze's 
book never mentions these retractions. 

Following the meeting in which the Agca-Bulgarian team supposedly 
planned to assassinate Walesa, "The Bulgarians must have continued 
frequent contacts with him.'" 2 No evidence is presented to sustain this 
assertion. Henze goes on to further fancies: 9 ' 

The Bulgarians there [in Rome] were neither the architects nor the prime con- 
tractors for Agca's activities. They were journeymen with the task of seeing that 
plans drawn up and approved elsewhere were executed efficiently. Control rest- 
ed in Sofia or Moscow. The architects remained in Moscow. They were press- 
ing the men in Rome to get on with the job. Something had to be done about this 
Polish pope. 

He writes that the "architects remained in Moscow" with the same 
assurance that "the Bulgarians must have continued frequent contact 
with Agca," although there is no evidence for either and the underlying 
premise rests only on Agca's word. As with Sterling, a secret of 
Henze's persuasiveness for the media is the breezy confidence with 
which he presents his alleged facts and conclusions and glides over his 
omissions and contradictions. 

Boris Henzoff: KGB Propaganda Specialist. One of the most remarka- 
ble features of the history of the Bulgarian Connection has been the abil- 
ity of Henze to assume a dominant position as news analyst and report- 
er, given his badly compromised credentials. Henze's bias, and the 
media's culpability in not recognizing and acknowledging this bias, 
may be made clearer by constructing an experiment. 

92 Ibid., p. 172 
93. Ibid. 



158 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Let us imagine that there was a Soviet KGB officer with the following 
characteristics: 

He had been the KGB station chief in the country from which the 
would-be assassin came, one where the Soviet-backed regime routinely 
tortured its own citizens; 

He had at one time been the policy adviser for a European radio sta- 
tion that the Soviets now admit was a KGB operation to spread the 
Soviet version of the news throughout Western Europe; 

He had recently nominated known intelligence experts and suspected 
KGB agents to oversee this same radio station; and 

His most recent assignment within the Soviet apparatus was the post 
of propaganda specialist in the Politburo. 

Let us now imagine that this same KGB officer undertakes a prop- 
aganda task, allegedly "on his own," at the precise moment that the 
Soviet Union is about to deploy an increased number of nuclear missiles 
on European soil. The new missiles are opposed by many Europeans, 
including substantial numbers of citizens in countries allied with the 
Soviet Union. The "former" KGB officer's endeavor — as the Kremlin 
is dramatizing the U.S. threat to the Soviet Union and manipulating in- 
formation about the military balance in Europe — is to orchestrate a be- 
hind-the-scenes media campaign to persuade international opinion that 
the highest leaders of the United States government have conspired to 
shoot the Pope. 

While the KGB officer's campaign finds a ready acceptance in the 
Soviet press and in communist party publications throughout the world, 
it must be admitted that his story raises doubts in other quarters. But 
even though he can provide no real evidence — no "smoking gun" or 
eyewitness testimony — that demonstrates that the papal assassination at- 
tempt was a U.S. plot, he argues that a "minimalist, legalistic ap- 
proach" to the U.S. conspiracy "would only serve the interests of the 
Americans." This reminder about patriotic duty apparently convinces 
Pravda and Izvestia, which print the front-page news that the United 
States has conspired to shoot the Pope. 

As the story gains in credibility with each retelling, new confessions 
by the would-be assassin issue from his Bulgarian prison. These are 
confirmed by the Bulgarian investigators. The KGB officer is called 
upon by the "quality" Soviet media to comment on these startling reve- 
lations. In fact, the KGB officer becomes a prime source for the com- 
munist media throughout the world. The communist media pay no atten- 
tion to protests from the West about the credibility of their source, for 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



159 



they quickly trace these protests and alleged contrary evidence to the 
CIA. And why should they take the western allegations of fraud seri- 
ously? For the KGB man is a former intelligence officer of their own 
country; and, as for each country in the world, it is an article of faith that 
only intelligence officers of somebody else's state tell lies. 



Michael Ledeen 



Like Sterling and Henze, Michael Ledeen has had a long career of ser- 
vice to the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and durable links to the 
establishment's conservative network. In his 1980 efforts on behalf of 
Reagan, Ledeen co-authored a series of articles with Amaud de Bor- 
chgrave, and Ledeen 's recent book Grave New World ** was enthusias- 
tically reviewed in de Borchgrave's (and the Reverend Moon's) 
Washington Times. In his acknowledgments in Grave New World, Le- 
deen expresses in groveling language his indebtedness to a large number 
of the key members of the rightwing network, from Henry Kissinger to 
Vemon Walters ("one of the great personages of our time, whose tire- 
less service and remarkable personal qualities have done so much for 
our country"). 

An important institutional base of Ledeen has been the Georgetown 
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a research center 
"affiliated with" Georgetown University. (Although no courses are 
taught there, this affiliation furnishes an academic cover for a rightwing 
propaganda agency/thinktank.) Funded by conservative foundations and 
corporate interests, CSIS provides a revolving door between govem- 
ment-CIA personnel and journalist-academics. Former CIA Deputy Di- 
rector for Intelligence Ray Cline has been a leading official of the Cen- 
ter, and the senior researchers tend to be former intelligence officials of 
the CIA and State Department. The CSIS has specialized in reports on 
various forms of the Red Threat. Fred Landis makes a good case that it 
also provides an outlet for CIA and other intelligence reports and a 
cover for CIA black propaganda." Perhaps most important, the CSIS 
provides a means for organizing the preparation and dissemination of 

94. Michael Leeden, Grave New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). 

95. Fred Landis, "Georgetown's Ivory Tower for Old Spooks," Inquiry, September 
30, 1979, pp. 7-9; Landis, "The Best Selling Lies of 1980," Inquiry, September 29, 
1980, pp. 17-23. 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the appropriate conservative "lines" on various subjects, and for pro- 
viding "experts" like Michael Ledeen, Robert Kupperman, and Walter 
Laqueur to appear on the TV networks to expound these views. The in- 
tellectual status of the organization is enhanced by the affiliation of 
scholar-notables like Kissinger, Brzezinski, and Adjunct Fellow Amaud 
de Borchgrave. 

Ledeen's role within the rightwing intellectual establishment has been 
based on his credentials as an expert on Italy, and especially on political 
extremism and "Soviet-sponsored terrorism" in Italy. As Italy has pro- 
vided a dramatic example of these phenomena for conservatives, Le- 
deen has become a leading spokesperson for the thesis of Soviet ma- 
nipulation and disinformation. 96 

In Italy in the mid-1970s Ledeen served as a journalist for the right- 
wing paper // Giornale Nuovo, a 1974 breakaway from Corriere Delia 
Sera, and probably funded by the CIA. 1 " During the Italian election 
campaign of 1976, the Italian Communist Party was expected to make 
great gains, which aroused acute alarm in the U.S. foreign policy estab- 
lishment. In these dire circumstances Ledeen played an important role 
in trumpeting both at home and in Italy itself the fearsomeness of the 
Red Threat. In collaborative articles with Claire Sterling, Ledeen al- 
leged that Soviet money was flowing into Italian politics. (Characteristi- 
cally, and once again revealing a feature of Sterling and Ledeen as dis- 
informationists, this was a period of enormous secret inflows of U.S. 
money into the Italian electoral process.''*) 

While Ledeen has close links to the U.S. hard-line Right, perhaps his 
most notable distinction lies in his affiliations with the extreme Right in 
Italy. As we saw in Chapter 4, he was associated with Francesco 
Pazienza, a friend of Licio Gelli and the Mafia and a member of the Ital- 
ian secret service organization SISMI, and Ledeen himself was on the 
SISMI payroll and participated in its dirty tricks. According to Italian 
press reports, furthermore, Pazienza and Ledeen foisted some stale U.S. 
intelligence reports about the Communist Plot on SISMI for large con- 
sulting fees. Ledeen's manipulative operations in Italy were of suffi- 
cient scale and quality to cause a new head of SISMI to denounce Le- 
deen on the floor of the Italian Parliament in 1984 as an "intriguer" and 

96. With the cooperation of the mass media, in which they are a powerful force, the 
conservatives have succeeded in pushing under the rug the massive rightwing destabiliza- 
tion and terrorism in Italy in the period 1969-80. They pretend that Italian terrorism is pre- 
dominantly a product of the Left (See Chapter 4 ) 

97, See Landis, "The Best Selling Lies of 1980," op. cit.. n 95 
98 See Chapter 4, p. 73 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



161 



unwelcome in Italy.*' 

It even appears that Ledeen had a significant relationship with Licio 
Gelli, the head of P-2 now wanted in Italy for a variety of crimes. On 
March 29, 1982, the Italian weekly Panorama reported that a phone call 
from Gelli in Uruguay to Florentine lawyer Federico Federici, which 
was intercepted by the police, had instructed Federici to pass the manu- 
script of Gelli 's new book on to Michael Ledeen. When Gelli 's files 
were seized by the Uruguayan police, Michael Ledeen went down to 
Uruguay on behalf of the U.S. State Department to try to acquire some 
of the files. 100 One can only wonder what Michael Ledeen was looking 
for in those files! 

Ledeen' s disinformation role. Michael Ledeen 's function as an intellec- 
tual-propagandist of the hard-line Right is to find plausible reasons to 
oppose detente and to justify a renewed arms race, the free use of force, 
and support for the enlarging network of rightist regimes and counter- 
revolutionary Freedom Fighters. His objective is to move the frontier of 
accepted premises as far to the right as is at present feasible. In the sum- 
mer of 1985, for example, Ledeen aggressively pushed the desirability 
of bombing the Lebanese Shiites in retaliation for the TWA-hostage in- 
cident, as part of a harder-line policy of force in dealing with the taking 
of hostages; 10 ' and during the same period he urged the higher morality 
of invading Nicaragua in the interest of Freedom.' 02 

The themes addressed over the years by Ledeen in pursuit of this 
basic agenda are very similar to those pressed by Sterling, Henze, de 
Borchgrave, Brzezinski, Robert Moss, and Henry Kissinger. The Com- 
munists are gaining power, pursuing their fixed agenda of conquest, in- 
filtrating everywhere, and posing ever more serious threats to Liberty. 
The Free World's defenses are down and sagging. The First Amend- 
ment is an encumbrance that allows the liberal-dominated media to play 
into the enemy's hands. We need to organize and behave more 
ruthlessly to contend with the forces of Evil. This means providing more 
consistent support to our allies (e.g., the late Somoza, the late Shah, 
Pinochet, Botha, and Marcos) and being more willing to move militarily 

99 Maurizio De Luca, "Fuori I'intrigante," L'Espresso, August 5, 1984 

100 Diana Johnstone, "The Ledeen connections," In These Times, September 8-14. 
1982. 

101. "Be Ready to Fight." New York Time*. June 23, 1985 (Op-Ed column) 

102. "When Security Preempts the Rule of Law," New York Times, April 16, 1984 
(Op-Ed column) 



162 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



against the forces of the enemy (Angola, Nicaragua, the Shiite Mos- 
lems). 

Ledeen's role in developing and propagating the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion was thus only one of many threads of conservative thought he has 
been pursuing. What unites these threads is Ledeen's determination to 
show the Soviet hand everywhere. This can be seen by examining his 
recent volume of essays, Grave New World. Our examination will il- 
luminate the place of the Bulgarian Connection within a family of right- 
wing themes, and it will reveal more clearly the pseudoscientific quality 
of the entire body of thought of Ledeen and his f ellow disinformationists 
centered in the CSIS. 

Soviet military superiority. Ledeen consistently acts as if certain partly 
or fully institutionalized propaganda lies are true, and proceeds from 
there. For example, a premise of the rightwing establishment is that the 
Soviet Union achieved military superiority in the late 1970s. Ledeen 
presents this as an assured truth, without bothering to provide argument 
or citations: "This [earlier Soviet] inferiority has now been overcome, 
and insofar as one side now has an overall edge in military power, it is 
the Warsaw Pact that leads the NATO countries. " 103 This statement can 
be refuted by reference to numerous U.S. Defense Department esti- 
mates and posture statements. NATO defense expenditures have always 
exceeded those of the Warsaw Pact countries, its naval fire power is 
twice that of the Warsaw Pact countries, it has comparable levels of mil- 
itary manpower, and it has numerical and technical superiority in nucle- 
ar weapons. In a significant exchange on May 11, 1982, Senator Carl 
Levin asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs if he would trade Soviet 
military capabilities for our own. General Vesey would not trade. On 
April 29, 1982, Senator Charles Percy asked Def ense Secretary Caspar 
Weinberger whether he would trade nuclear arsenals with the Soviets. 
Weinberger said that "I would not for a moment exchange anything, be- 
cause we have an immense edge in technology . " 104 Part of the genius of 
the system is that military officials can acknowledge our military 
superiority and plans for destabilization of the Soviet Bloc based on in- 
creases in military advantage, 105 while maintaining for the general pub- 

103 Ledeen, op. cit , n 94, p. 5. 

1 04. These quotes and a full range o f statistics are available i n Center for Defense Infor- 
mation, "U.S. -Soviet Military Facts," The Defense Monitor, Vol. XIII. No. 6, 1984 

105. See Chapter 4, n. 7 and associated text 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



163 



lie Che vision of Soviet superiority and menace. This requires the ser- 
vices of intellectuals like Michael Ledeen. 

The Soviet terror network. Another established premise of the disinfor- 
mationists is that there is a Soviet-supported terror network. This idea 
therefore enters Ledeen 's writings as a truth not requiring evidence. 
"The terror network was (among other things) a way of intensifying the 
pressure on the West to make space for the extreme Left." 106 As we 
noted earlier, the overall effect of the activities of the "terrorists" in 
Italy, Turkey, and West Germany has served western interests, not 
those of the Soviet Union. The Soviets have never been keen on the 
"extreme Left." And their stress on detente and building economic re- 
lationships with the West runs counter to building a Terror Network. 
Ledeen never discusses these points. 

The Korean airliner 007 as a case study in Soviet terrorism. An exam- 
ple of Soviet terrorism in action, according to Ledeen, was the shooting 
down of Korean airliner K AL 007 in September 1 983 . This incident was 
quickly capitalized on by the Reagan administration, which alleged that 
the Soviets had knowingly shot down a civilian airliner without warn- 
ing. The extreme Right contended that this was a Soviet bullying act, or 
even one designed explicitly to eliminate rightwing Congressman Larry 
McDonald, a passenger. Ledeen accepts and builds on the propaganda 
line and the Soviet coercion theme, using it to try to portray the then 
Soviet Premier Andropov as a villainous bully. According to Ledeen, 
the shooting down of the airliner was a "show of force . . . brutally 
threatening those who did not behave as he [Andropov] wanted. " 101 The 
incident was actually a disaster for the Soviet Union, which shot down 
the plane not knowing that it was a civilian aircraft, 101 and then stumbled 
badly in confusion before a well-organized Reagan administration prop- 
aganda onslaught. That it was a planned effort to bully the West is the 
effusion of a propagandist. 

The Grenada Threat. The Grenadian revolution of 1979, according to Le- 

106. Ltd »en, op. cit., n. 94, p. 196. 

107. Ibid., pp. 192-95. 

108. This point was even belatedly conceded by the CIA, but this did not diminish the 
effectiveness of the propaganda campaign See David Shribman, "U S Experts Say 
Soviet Didn't See Jel Was Civilian," New York Times. October 7. 1983. 



164 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



deen, established an important Soviet outpost, and was part of "a 
major direct [Soviet] commitment in the Caribbean." 10 * Of course, this 
was all by proxy, but the Soviet commitment to the Grenadians was 
"quite explicit when Marshall [sic] Ogarkov told the ranking officer of 
the Grenadian army. Major Einstein Louison, that the revolution in Gre- 
nada was irreversible, thus extending the Brezhnev doctrine to the 
Caribbean region. ""° But why should the Soviets operate carefully only 
through proxies if they were willing to make an "explicit" extension of 
the Brezhnev doctrine to the Caribbean? Ledeen provides no direct quo- 
tation from Ogarkov. It is obvious that if Ogarkov had made a Soviet 
promise that they would not permit a reversal of the revolution, Ledeen 
would have mentioned this. As it is, he is forced to transform what was 
probably a rhetorical flourish at a cocktail party into a Soviet commit- 
ment. Here propaganda trickery attains the comic. 

The Reaganite history of El Salvador. Ledeen's rewriting of Salvadoran 
history is in the same mold as his treatment of the 007 incident. That is, 
he knows that the Reagan administration was successful in selling the 
1982 and 1984 Salvadoran elections as marvels of the democratic pro- 
cess. He therefore feels able to take their integrity at face value and go 
on from there. His manipulation of evidence also illustrates the larger 
disinformation function of turning all popular movements against Un- 
supported dictatorships into minority attacks on reformist governments. 
According to Ledeen: 1 " 

A group of progressive generals had seized power in 1 979 from an oligarchic 
group that had long ruled the country. This coup constituted a moderate revolu- 
tion: Some thirty thousand of the old ruling class left El Salvador. ... In 1 980, 
the generals brought Napoledn Duarte in to head the government, and Duarte 
and his colleagues promised constitutional reform, democratic elections, and a 
continuation of the redistribution program. All of these promises were main- 
tained [sic] — an achievement in itself. It was only after this progressive coup 
that a unified guerrilla movement came into being. . . . 

We may note the following f abrications and misrepresentations in this 
account: 

( 1 ) The economic oligarchy had ruled the country in close collusion 

109. Led»en. op. cit , n 94, p. 195. 

1 10. Ibid., p. 196. 
Ill Ibid., pp. 97-98 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



165 



with a military oligarchy. The 1979 coup was engineered by progressive 
junior officers, not generals. These progressive officers were quickly 
ousted in a countercoup that left power in the hands of the same military 
elements that had collaborated with the old economic oligarchy for de- 
cades. As noted by Raymond Bonner:" 2 

The young, progressive officers who carefully plotted the coup lost control of it 
as swiftly as they had executed it. Their ideals and objectives were subverted by 
senior, more conservative officers who had the backing of Devine [U. S. Am- 
bassador to El Salvador] and the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador and key Carter 
administration officials in Washington. These senior officers were not about to 
surrender their unfettered sovereignty to civilians. They recoiled at the prospect 
of having criminal charges lodged against any of their colleagues. They blocked 
the implementation of economic reforms. And they continued to use excessive 
force against dissent: More people were killed in the three weeks f ollowing the 
coup than in any three-week period during the Romero regime [the dictatorship 
which preceded the coup]. 

(2) Duarte was brought into the junta in March 1980 after the resigna- 
tion of the progressive elements in the junta. His function was to serve 
as a figleaf for the escalating violence, in the course of which over 
20,000 unarmed civilians were killed by the security forces in 1980-81 
without audible protest from Duarte. He was elevated to President of the 
junta in December 1980, following the rape-murder of four U.S. reli- 
gious women, an action by the security forces that required a public re- 
lations response. Duarte himself conceded just prior to the 1982 elec- 
tions that he had lacked any real power and served as a figurehead." 3 

(3) Ledeen suppresses the fact that a state of siege was imposed in 
March 1980, from which ensued a level of state terror that far exceeded 
the violence of the preceding Romero dictatorship. This was the period 
in which the "death squads" became important factors in Salvadoran 
life. 

(4) The promise of "constitutional reform" was nullified im- 
mediately after the progressive junior officers and civilians were ousted. 
Instead of a constitutional process a new reign of terror descended on El 
Salvador. Even William Doherty, head of the CIA-funded American In- 

112. Weakness and Deceit: U S. Policy and El Salvador (New York: Times Books, 
1984), p. 149. 

113. See the interview with Duarte by Raymond Bonner, New York Times, March 1 , 
1982. 



166 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



stitute for Free Labor Development, stated in 1982 that "there was no 
system of justice in El Salvador. " IN 

(5) The Salvadoran guerrilla movement came into existence in the 
early 1970s. It gained strength as popular movements of peasants, 
workers, and professionals were brutally repressed, and as the electoral 
path to reform was closed. It then grew rapidly under the reign of terror 
that followed the countercoup in early 1980. 

Ledeen on the media. One function of the disinformationists is to make 
the media more pliable in accepting without question their disinforma- 
tion handouts. As we have noted, one way they do this is to trumpet 
loudly about Soviet disinformation, as part of the larger campaign of 
bullying the media into submission to their own. Ledeen's attack on the 
media fits the standard neoconservative format. 

(1) The media are a separate "largely homogeneous political class 
with the usual overriding class interest: increasing their own power."" 5 
The neoconservatives pretend that the lower echelons of journalists-pro- 
ducers are all there are in the media. But the media are a very complex 
set that includes reporters, anchorpersons, producers, owners, pub- 
lishers, and corporate parents. The large media are all sizable corpora- 
tions or affiliates of very large companies, and the bulk of their revenue 
is derived from the advertising outlays of other large companies. The 
media are owned and controlled by powerful corporate interests and 
wealthy individuals. What is their "class" and class interest? Why 
would they be opposed to a foreign policy geared to the interests of their 
corporate confreres? Do these owners, managers, and publishers have 
no influence over their employees' activities? Would these owners stand 
by helplessly in the face of systematic attacks on the corporate system 
and the essentials of national foreign policy agreed upon by the corpo- 
rate community? Ledeen, of course, never addresses these questions." 6 

(2) The media culture is liberal and represents a liberal conformity. 
"Theirs is a view of the world in which the United States is a major 
problem, not a major contributor to solutions."" 7 Interestingly, Ledeen 
and his neoconservative allies never ask whether the liberals are an- 

I 14. Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives. Hearings on Presiden- 
tial Certification on El Salvador, 97th Congress, 2nd Session, 1982, vol. 2, p. 105 
115. Ledeen, op. cit., n. 94, p. 108. 

1 16 See generally, Michael Parenti, Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media 
(New York: St Martin s Press. 1986). especially Chapters 2. 3, and 4 

117 Ledeen, op. cit., n. 94. p. 107 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



167 



ticommunist and whether they consider the Soviet Union to be a source 
of problems or a major contributor to solutions. The answers to the latter 
questions are so blatantly obvious that the neoconservatives have to 
evade them entirely. The trouble with the liberals is that, while usually 
highly patriotic and very hostile to communism, many of them actually 
believe in the principles of political democracy and competitive enter- 
prise. Thus, they will sometimes criticize radical deviations from these 
principles on the part of Free World governments. It is this margin of 
dissent that the neoconservatives can't stand; they want a full mobiliza- 
tion of propaganda resources, in the interest of National Security! 

The statement by Ledeen quoted above is of course wildly inaccurate. 
The press in the United States occasionally portrays its own country as 
having erred, but it invariably ascribes these errors to miscalculation in 
the national desire to do good. For the Free World media, U.S. inter- 
ventions or violations of international law are deviations from a general 
tendency to do good in the world. By contrast, the press almost uni- 
formly regards the Soviet Union and its allies as sources of problems, 
not means of their solution. 

(3) "Most journalists these days consider it beneath their dignity to 
simply report the words of government officials — and let it go at 
that."" 8 This is a fine illustration of Ledeen's (and the general neocon- 
servative) view that the media should properly serve as an uncritical 
conduit for government handouts. Some might argue that Big Govern- 
ment threatens to dominate the media and gradually to become Big 
Brother. The neoconservatives have little fear of this, as long as their 
pals are in charge of the government! Big government is bad only in its 
intrusions into the economy, and even there, only where it tries to curb 
business excesses and redistribute income downward. In short, Ledeen 
is a spokesman for a National Security State and unbridled corporate 
domination of the economy. 

(4) "The United States and its allies are held up against standards that 
are not applied to the Soviet Union and its allies. Relatively minor 
human rights transgressions in a friendly country (especially if ruled by 
an authoritarian government of the Right) are given far more attention 
and more intense criticism than far graver sins of countries hostile to 
us.""'' This is one of those neoconservative and Ledeenean whoppers 
that astound by their sheer audacity. Abuses of peasants and trade un- 

I 18. Ibid., p. III. 
1 19. Ibid., p 131. 



168 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ionists in Guatemala and Turkey are given more attention in the U.S. 
media than abuses in Poland? The murders of human rights activists in 
El Salvador are given more publicity than the treatment of Sakharov, 
Orlov, and Shcharansky in the Soviet Union? The media have paid a lot 
of attention to human rights violations in Indonesia and mass murder by 
the Indonesian government in East Timor, while neglecting Pol Pot and 
the trials and tribulations of the Vietnamese boat people? 

Ledeen demonstrates the media's "ideological double standard" by 
comparing "the relative authority given statements from western and 
non-westem sources." 1 - 0 He illustrates by the fact that "a denial by 
Qaddafi leads 'CBS News' to speak of alleged' Libyan involvement in 
Chad (after all, it was only alleged by the American government, and 
thus it was somehow suspect). . . . " 121 As Ledeen gives neither date 
nor source for this quotation, it is not clear whether the use of the word 
"alleged" accompanied Qaddafi's denial, but the implication that Qad- 
dafi is treated with deference in the U S. media as an authority superior 
to U.S. government officials is grotesque nonsense. The fact that Qad- 
dafi was given a few minutes of time on CBS News proves nothing 
about how he was used — which is usually as a straw man to knock 
down. The main point, however, is that Qaddafi is the long-established 
bogeyman of both administration and press. Any negative allegation 
about Qaddafi is publishable, and his credibility as a source is abso- 
lutely nil. Ledeen's suggestion to the contrary, based on the application 
of a single word, is silly even for a propagandist. 

(5) "Perhaps the greatest success of Soviet disinformation is the con- 
stant cynicism about American motives that characterizes so much of 
contemporary journalism."'" The assertion of media cynicism about 
American motives is nonsensical, and the reverse of the truth. The 
standard liberal formal is to postulate beneficent motives which are re- 
grettably not being implemented properly. No matter how many Latin 
American dictatorships are brought into being and loyally supported by 
American power, the mass media never fail to find its country pursuing 
democracy and other reasonable ends. 

Ledeen also uses here the standard disinformationist technique for 
smearing the media spelled out in The Spike. 125 Note how he makes the 

120 Ibid .p. 132 

121 Ibid., pp 132-33. 

122 Ibid., p. 134. 

123. Robert Moss and Amaud de Borchgrave, The Spike (New York: Crown, 1980) 
The authors argue that a substantial sector of the "establishment" media is deeply pene- 



SIX: THE DISINFORMAT10NISTS 



169 



cynicism a success of Soviet disinformation, suggesting a cause and ef- 
fect relation. He provides not one jot of evidence that any domestic criti- 
cism of U.S. policies is based on Soviet sources. He just implies this by 
word manipulation. He actually goes on to explain that it must be Soviet 
influence that causes suspicion of motives because the United States is 
good, and when forced into conflict "will strain to support democratic 
forces" — as it has done for so many years in Guatemala and Zaire, for 
example. Although Ledeen is supposed to be a political scientist, he of- 
fers no serious discussion of U.S. interest and policies, only propaganda 
cliches.'" 

(6) Ledeen is deeply bothered by the First Amendment, especially in 
its claims for "unlimited free speech" and its lack of requirement for 
"responsible use of that right ." 126 He sees this claim as the slogan of the 
"new class" that dominates the media and as a weapon in a "class 
struggle." We have to do something about the First Amendment in 
order to ensure serious debate, because you can't have serious debate 
when one side {i.e., the media) "is itself an interested party." 1 " The 
notion of the media as a "class interest" in systematic opposition to the 
government is pure neoconservative ideology and indefensible, as dis- 
cussed in points ( 1 ) and (2) above. It is interesting to note, however, Le- 
deen 's complaisance in the face of centralizing government power. Lib- 
erals ask: Isn't the government very powerful and doesn't it pose the 
problem of manipulating consent and overwhelming the public in a cen- 
tralizing system? If the media is more "responsible" in a Ledeenean 
sense (i.e., serves as a conduit for State Department handouts), where 
will we find any debate at all? Ledeen is silent on these points 

Ledeen does end up on a constructive note, however. He would pro- 
vide for easier libel suits, an ombudsman, and more competition (how, 
he does not say). His positive recommendations, in short, are dangerous 
(libel suits), vague (more competition), and trivial (an ombudsman). 

(rated by KGB moles and well-populated with KGB dupes. 

1 24 In an Op-Ed column in the New York Times. Ledeen even refers to our respect for 
law as "innate " Ledeen, op. tit., n. 102. 

125. On the history of the U.S. struggle against democracy in Guatemala, see espe- 
cially, Blanche Wiesen Cook. The Declassified Eisenhower (New York: Doubleday, 
1981); Richard lmmerman. The CIA in Guatemala (Austin, Texas: University of Texas 
Press, 1982); Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit (New York: Double- 
day, 1981) On the U S role in Zaire, see Jonathan Kwitny. Endless Enemies (New York: 
Congdon & Weed, 1984), pp 8-103. 

126 Ledeen, op cit., n. 94, p 109 

127. Ibid., p. Ill 



170 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



His function, however, is to discredit the media and set the stage for an- 
timedia pressures that will reduce dissent and enhance the power and 
freedom from criticism of the preferred and relevant disinformation. 

Ledeen on the Bulgarian Connection. Ledeen discusses the Bulgarian 
Connection in the framework of his critique of the media. He tries to 
show that the media were lax in not pushing the case more aggressively. 
He also uses the case to .reinforce the contention that the Bulgarian Con- 
nection is true and the Evil Empire evil. This is a precious theme for the 
disinformationists, and all of its members and associates try as best they 
can to stress that the Connection is proved, and to make it into an in- 
stitutionalized truth which no reasonable person could question. 

In pressing the Connection, Ledeen relies heavily on Sterling-Henze 
arguments, to which he adds his own quota of alleged facts and suppor- 
tive innuendoes. He commends Sterling for her "careful article" which 
was subjected f or many months "to checking, cutting, and rewriting" 
(which if done for Andronov's work in Moscow, would presumably add 
to its validity for Ledeen). 

Ledeen follows the Sterling-Henze line on motive — that is, the 
Soviets had a clear motive to shoot the Pope, and the Italians had no mo- 
tive to put the blame for the shooting on the Bulgarians and KGB. On 
the latter subject, Ledeen asks: Would Italian judges of "impeccable 
reputation" (i.e., Ledeen likes what they are doing) push the case 
"without compelling evidence? Would they jeopardize Italy's national 
interest (which includes, at a minimum, good commercial relations with 
the Soviet Empire) without something approaching solid proof?" 128 
Like Sterling-Henze, Ledeen never mentions P-2, the "strategy of ten- 
sion," Pazienza, SISMI, or the politics of the Cold War in Italy. He 
doesn't even ask whether the pursuit of the case might have any spinoff 
benefits to the Socialist and Christian Democratic Parties. The dishon- 
esty and hypocrisy here are extraordinary: Just as Henze, the "expert" 
on Turkey, ignores the Turkish roots of the assassination plot, Ledeen, 
the "expert" on Italy, ignores the Italian context of Agca's confession. 

"Bit by bit the logic of the case began to assert itself . . . ."'""Time 
revealed that the Pope himself believed that Agca was part of a KGB 
plot and went on to deal with the growing evidence." 150 The Papal Of- 
fice denied this alleged belief, but even if it were true, of what eviden- 

128. Ibid. pp. 127-28. 

129. Ibid., p. 127. 
130 Ibid., p. 126. 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



171 



tial value is the Pope's belief? These allegations about "beliefs" and 
' 'growing evidence' ' are rhetorical tricks that Ledeen resorts to time and 
again. 

His own touch is "that Agca's network of Bulgarians and Turks . . . 
provided Agca with money, with the gun he fired at the Pope, and with 
other forms of organizational assistance. . . ."" What is proven is that 
Agca's network of Turkish Gray Wolves gave him money, his gun, and 
organizational assistance; what still rests entirely on Agca's belated, 
contradictory, and unverified claims is that these Turks were involved 
with Bulgarians in the plot to shoot the Pope. 

Ledeen alleges that the American press stayed away from the Bulga- 
rian Connection. Initially, he tells us, the media suppressed the "facts" 
of the Connection "because it would give added credibility to Haig's 
claim that the Russians were behind a good deal of terrorism in the 
world." 132 No supporting evidence is given for this assertion, which is 
clearly shown to be totally false by the news story summaries in Appen- 
dix A. He rules out the possibility that something convenient to a patrio- 
tic line may be disbelieved because it is incredible and untrue. There 
must be a hidden subversive motive. We will show in the next chapter 
that his basic factual claim is false — the mass media swallowed and wal- 
lowed uncritically in the Connection as soon as a remotely plausible 
James Bond scenario was provided by Sterling and company. 

Ledeen's statement on why journalists were hostile to the KGB plot is 
followed by this: 133 

But in several stories in early 1983 it was casually revealed that most know- 
ledgeable people in the West are thoroughly convinced of this Soviet connec- 
tion, particularly in the case of Italy. When Henry Kamm quoted his unnamed 
Israeli intelligence source to undermine the Bulgarian connection, he went on to 
provide considerable proof of Communist bloc involvement in international ter- 
rorism. Sari Gilbert, the Washington Post's stringer in Rome, revealed on 
March 20 that the Italians were quite convinced of a long-standing connection 
between Eastern Europe (primarily Czechoslovakia) and the Red Brigades, a 
point also made by Time and Newsweek. Thus, those of us who for years have 
been arguing for such a connection — and were subjected to the most remarkable 
scom from our colleagues in the elite media — have been vindicated. But the ac- 
ceptance of these views is done in such a way as to deprive it of any political im- 
pact. 

131. Ibid., pp. 119-20. 

132. Ibid., p. 127. 

133. Ibid., pp. 129 30. 



172 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



These lines combine direct lies, unproven allegations, faulty infer- 
ences, stripped context, and innuendo. Note first the opening reference 
to several stories that "casually revealed" that "most knowledgeable 
people in the West were thoroughly convinced . . . ," etc. Ledeen 
doesn't cite a single one of these alleged sources, nor does he discuss 
their sampling procedures. Who are "knowledgeable people"? Note the 
rhetorical ploy "casually revealed," which suggests authentic truth 
("revealed") unreasonably given inadequate attention (only "casually" 
advanced despite the staggering implications of the revelations). The 
knowledgeable people are convinced of a Soviet Connection which in 
the preceding sentence refers to a generic "terrorism." It is not even 
clear that the knowledgeable people were asked anything specific about 
the Bulgarian Connection (as opposed to a looser Soviet connection to 
spies and assorted villainy). 

Ledeen refers next to Henry Kamm's article in the New York Times in 
which Kamm cited several intelligence officials who expressed doubts 
about the Soviet involvement in the plot against the Pope. Both Sterling 
and Ledeen jump on this to prove media negativism and attempts to 
"undermine the Bulgarian Connection." This is patent nonsense that 
misreads Kamm's article, takes it out of context, and misses the forest 
for a single tree. Kamm's article was full of accusations and innuendoes 
about Soviet and Bulgarian support for terrorism. More important, as 
we describe in the next chapter, the Kamm article was exceptional in al- 
lowing any negative assessments of the Connection to surface at all. Le- 
deen thus suppresses the fact that surrounding the cited Kamm article 
were dozens that passed on the Sterling-Henze view of the plot uncriti- 
cally and helped build up the critical mass of a propaganda campaign. 

Consider the next series of sentences, about Sari Gilbert and the Red 
Brigades. Note the use of the words "revealed" and the "Italians were 
quite convinced." If Sari Gilbert had "revealed" that Italians were con- 
vinced that Michael Ledeen was a CIA flak, Ledeen would say that ' 're- 
vealed" is a grossly inappropriate word because it implies that some- 
thing is true. He would prefer "alleged." But in the case of a point that 
he likes, where Sari Gilbert is saying something agreeable, she "re- 
vealed" it. And "the point [is] also made" by Time and Newsweek — 
not the "allegation" or "claim" is made, the point is made. The point 
is now doubly established, because if Sari Gilbert and Time and News- 
week agree, given the fact that they are subject to the bias of liberal class 
interest and are very possibly manipulated by the KGB, their admissions 
are contrary to interest — by neoconservative premise. That is why Sari 



SIX: THE DISINFORMATIONISTS 



173 



Gilbert's statement is a "revelation" and true — and vindicates Michael 
Ledeen. The point that is being made, or "revealed," is that the "Ital- 
ians" allegedly believe something to be true. Presumably if "the Ital- 
ians" believed in flying saucers, that would be all that Ledeen would re- 
quire for the establishment of the truth of flying saucers. 

In the passage quoted above, Ledeen concluded that "the acceptance 
of these views is done in such a way as to deprive it of any political im- 
pact." He suggests that this applies to the publicity on the plot to kill the 
Pope. As we indicated in discussing the Kamm article, Ledeen and 
Sterling pick and choose their evidence of critical attacks on the Bulga- 
rian Connection and ignore the massive, supportive publicity. In the 
next chapter we will provide evidence that the mass media of the United 
States have presented the Bulgarian Connection in a systematically 
biased fashion, featuring the disinformationists, and in such a way as to 
maximize its political impact. In reading Michael Ledeen, the rule 
should be: Take anything he says, stand it on its head, and you have a 
better than average chance of approximating the truth. 



7. The Dissemination off the 
Bulgarian Connection Plot 



A propaganda system is one which uses — and sometimes manufac- 
tures — a politically serviceable fact or claim, gives it aggressive 
and one-sided coverage, and excludes from discussion all critical facts 
and analyses. An imperfect propaganda system will allow a small quan- 
tum of leakage, but not enough to prevent the effective mobilization of 
bias and the establishment of the convenient story as a patriotic truth in 
the minds of the general public. In its handling of the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion story the U.S. mass media behaved as an imperfect propaganda sys- 
tem. 



Media Processes in a Propaganda Campaign 



Propaganda takes its effect, first, by repetition — by day-in-day-out 
coverage which drives home the fact that something is important. It is 
significant that the U.S. media do not provide day-in-day-out coverage 
of the victims of death squads in Latin America, or assaults by South 
Africa on its neighbors, or Indonesia's invasion and continuing pacifica- 
tion of East Timor. These are actions and victims of "friendly" nations, 
who provide an excellent investment climate and align themselves as 
clients and military allies with the dominant powers of the Free World. 
With them we therefore enter into "constructive engagement," and es- 
chew boycotts and threats no matter how violent and unconscionable 
their behavior. 1 On the other hand, victims of enemy powers — Cuban 

I. The "human rights" policy of the Carter years did constitute a deviation from this 
partem, but it was a deviation. A residue of the Vietnam War era, it was pressed by Con- 
gress, and was frequently vigorously resisted and used heavily for rhetorical purposes by 
the administration itself. Loaded with exceptions and weak in implementation against 
client states, it was subject to intense and ultimately effective opposition by the business 
community and military-industrial complex. See Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman. 



174 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



175 



and Vietnamese refugees, Lech Walesa and Soviet dissidents — are sub- 
jects of day-in-day-out coverage. A tabulation in The Real Terror Net- 
work shows that between January 1 , 1976 and March 30, 1982, the New 
York Times had more than twice as many articles on Anatoly 
Shcharansky as it ran on an aggregate of 14 notable Free World victims 
of state terror. Shcharansky generated five different spurts of intensive 
coverage during that period. 2 

The process of mobilizing bias depends heavily on the initiatives and 
power of the mass media, with perhaps a dozen entities capable of get- 
ting the ball rolling and sustaining interest. If several of these, like 
Reader's Digest, NBC, and the New York Times decide to push a story, 
it quickly becomes newsworthy. Many people hear of it, and thus other 
members of the media fraternity feel obliged to get oh the bandwagon 
because this is the news. When one of the authors (Herman) wanted to 
write on both Cambodia and East Timor in 1 980, not Cambodia alone, 
the editor of a liberal magazine objected on the ground that "nobody 
had heard of ' East Timor. The Reader's Digest had had no article on 
the subject; William Safire, Hugh Sidey, and William Buckley had not 
discussed the matter; and the coverage of East Timor by the New York 
Times had been inversely related to Indonesian state violence (starting 
from a modest level and a pro-Indonesia bias to begin with). 3 With this 
silence at the top of the media power structure, and thus "nobody hav- 
ing heard of East Timor, ' ' only eccentricity could cause the lesser media 
to bring up a subject so obviously unnewsworthy. 

For news that is more acceptable to major power groups, if cir- 
cumstances are ripe a propaganda campaign can be mobilized. Espe- 
cially during periods when the business community is in an aggressive 
mood, eager to discredit unionism, regulation, and the welfare state, 
and has succeeded in bringing a conservative government into power 
and frightening liberals into quiescence, Red Scares and even repressive 
violence can occur. The press will then provide daily coverage of the 
latest revelations of Red linkages, confessions, and newly found docu- 
ments, and will carry speculation by notables on the intent of the con- 
spirators. The aggressive and assured portrayal of the conspiracy as 
clearly proven by the media elite produces an equally uncritical "popu- 

The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston: South End Press, 1979), 
pp. 33-37. 

2. Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda 
(Boston: South End Press, 1982), pp. 196-99. 

3. Sae Chomsky and Herman, op. nr.. n. I, pp. 145-51. 



176 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



lar belief ' that helps stifle any opposition views in the rest of the media. 
Such views are quickly seen as very "far out" and even subversively 
deviant. 

The mobilization of bias is helped along by the large number of right- 
wing columnists who come into prominence in conservative eras. It is 
the function of people like William Safire, George Will, and Ben Wat- 
tenberg to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to shift 
the political spectrum farther to the right, and they leap into the fray 
without any encumbrance by intellectual scruple. They are quickly 
joined by conservative academics and thinktank operatives (Walter 
Laqueur, Michael Novak, Ernest Lefever), who bring their "expertise" 
to the proof of Red Evil and to the important task of keeping the issue 
alive. In such an environment, with critical judgment by the mass media 
suspended, rightwing propagandists given free rein, and dissident opin- 
ion effectively excluded, lies can be institutionalized. As Murray Levin 
concluded in his study of the Red Scare of 1919-20, millions of people 
were led to believe in the existence of a Red Conspiracy "when no such 
threat existed." 4 



The Bulgarian Connection as a Media Propaganda Campaign 



The mass media buildup of the Bulgarian-KGB Connection is a model 
illustration of the principles and processes just outlined. Once again, it 
is an alleged enemy act of villainy that is shown to be capable of gener- 
ating day-in-day-out coverage. The process started with Claire Ster- 
ling's Reader's Digest article and the NBC-TV program of September 
21, 1982. But the real media buildup followed Agca's "confession," 
which led to the arrest of Antonov in late November. The New York 
Times, for example, had only two articles on the Bulgarian Connection 
in September 1982, none in October, and two in November; then it had 
20 in December, 15 in January 1983, and a modest fall-off to 8 in Feb- 
ruary. All the other major media enterprises — Time, Newsweek, the 
Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the TV networks — had a 
comparable escalation of coverage in December 1982 and January 
1983. The second layer of media followed in close order with a spate of 
articles; and commentators, humorists, and cartoonists attended to the 

4. Murray B. Levin, Political Hysteria in America (New York: Basic Books, 1981), p. 

3 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



177 



Bulgarian Connection frequently during the high intensity period. 

Besides its intensity, another indicator of the propagandistic character 
of the campaign was that its news content was minimal. Of the 32 news 
articles in the New York Times on, or closely related to, the Plot which 
appeared between November 1, 1982 and January 31, 1983, 12 had no 
news content whatever, but were reports of somebody's opinion or 
speculation about the case — or even their refusal to speculate about it! 
The Times carried one news article whose sole content was that Presi- 
dent Reagan had "no comment" on the case. More typical was the 
front-page article by Henry Kamm, "Bonn is Fearful Of Bulgaria Tie 
With Terrorists" (December 22, 1982), or Bernard Gwertzman's "U.S. 
Intrigued But Uncertain On a Bulgarian Tie" (December 26, 1982). In 
"news report" after news report unnamed officials are "intrigued," 
their interest is "piqued," evidence is said to be "not wholly convinc- 
ing," or "final proof is still lacking." Four of the news articles in the 
Times were on peripheral subjects such as smuggling in Bulgaria or Vat- 
ican-Soviet relations. Of the 16 more direct news items, only one 
covered a really solid news fact: the arrest of Antonov in Rome. The 
other 15 news items were trivia, such as Kamm's "Bulgarians Regret 
Tarnished Image" (January 27, 1983), or another Kamm piece entitled 
"Italian Judge Inspects Apartment of Suspect in Bulgarian Case" (Jan- 
uary 12, 1983). All of these expressions of opinion, doubt, interest, 
supposition, or news of minor details served to produce a lot of smoke, 
and kept the issue of possible Soviet involvement before the public. The 
New York Times was so aggressive in smoke creation that its article on 
smuggling in Bulgaria was placed on the front page, with the heading 
"Plot on Pope Aside, Bulgaria's Notoriety Rests on Smuggling" (Janu- 
ary 28, 1983) — a little editorial reminder of the Plot for the benefit of 
the reader, plus a further editorial judgment on "notoriety," all in a 
single headline! 

Smoke was also generated by the large stable of rightwing journalists 
and scholars — Safire, Will, Buckley, Pipes, and of course the Big 
Three — who took advantage of the newsworthiness of the Plot, added to 
it, and kept the pot boiling. Another of their functions was to make it ap- 
pear that not only was the proof clear, but that there was also a sinister 
coverup in high places of the true extent and enormity of Soviet guilt. In 
a charming little game, the CIA — reported to be "not sure," although 
believing that the Soviets "at a minimum" knew about the Plot — was 
made to appear the epitome of caution and judiciousness, not as a 



178 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



longstanding participant in rightwing disinformation. 3 Time magazine 
played this game with considerable flair, f ollowing Sterling in suggest- 
ing that foot-dragging in Washington was based on the fear that the true 
story "might scuttle any arms-control talks" (February 7, 1983). This 
delightful gambit, which patriotically assumed Reagan's deep devotion 
to arms control in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary, thereby 
converted a factor that might arouse suspicion as to the source of the 
Plot into a basis of administration regrets and coy protection of the 
Soviets. 

Time also did a masterful job of building up its favored sources of evi- 
dence — "normally cautious Italian politicians . . . exude confidence," 
"circumstantial evidence [which] . . . seems overwhelming" to U.S. 
intelligence, the British alone remaining skeptical. On the other hand, 
the Soviet reply was "emotional," with attacks on western journalists, 
but not on Marvin Kalb, "which tends to add credibility to the facts as 
well as to the tone [sic] of his reporting" (February 22, 1983). There 
was the necessary playing down of the problem of the credibility of 
Agca, his confession, his photo identification in the Italian police- 
prison-political context; but Time threw in just enough in the way of in- 
telligence doubts and admissions of lack of final proof so that their com- 
pletely uncritical use of sources and packaged sell of the Connection 
was not obvious. 

As we noted earlier, rightwing analysts like Sterling and Ledeen took 
articles like those of Toth and Kamm, in which intelligence agencies 
were quoted as expressing doubts about Soviet involvement, and tried to 
use these articles as evidence of CIA "foot-dragging" and reluctance to 
pursue the "truth." But not only did the cited articles invariably impli- 
cate the Soviets and Bulgarians one way or another, 6 they were also part 
of a large cloud of smoke whose net effect was to sell the Connection. 
The occasional qualified doubt or reservation actually contributed to the 
net effect by giving the impression of fairness and reasonableness on the 
part of the press. The modest qualifications that were allowed to surface 
were swamped by the larger enthusiastic chorus of nondoubters. 

A further characteristic of mass media coverage of the Bulgarian- 

5. Robert Toth, "Bulgaria Knew of Plot on Pope, CIA Concludes," Los Angeles 
Times, January 30, 1983. 

6. Toth's article incriminated the Bulgarians by suggesting that they knew about the 
plot but did nothing to prevent its implementation. Kamm transmitted western intelligence 
agency doubts about Soviet involvement in the plot to assassinate the Pope, but conveyed 
strong claims about Soviet contributions to "terrorism." 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



179 



KGB Connection that fits a propaganda model has been the virtually 
complete exclusion of dissenting opinion. The "debate" is confined to 
assertions and speculations by western terrorism experts, intelligence 
sources, and politicians, on the one hand, and Soviet and Bulgarian de- 
nials on the other. Communist denials, obviously to be expected, come 
from a source that the public will not find believable. Western critics of 
the story , who might have greater credibility , are not admitted to the de- 
bate. 

In the news articles and opinion pieces in the New York Times be- 
tween November 1, 1982 and January 31, 1983, for example, not one 
serious voice of opposition is to be found. (This characteristic also ap- 
plied to the Times' s coverage up to the time of the trial in 1985.) The 
Times, like Time, conveyed the views of the CIA, Italian politicians, the 
establishment terrorism experts, other intelligence services, and of 
course Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski's belief in Soviet involvement 
was put forth in a "news" article devoted solely to this enlightening 
fact; and the Times' then gave Brzezinski Op-Ed column space to restate 
his opinion. This is a good illustration of the main form of editorial writ- 
ing in the mass media — confining questions and answers in purported 
"news" articles to those whose conclusions preclude the necessity of 
the editor expressing his or her personal judgment. 

A final important propaganda characteristic of media coverage of the 
Bulgarian Connection, implicit in a number of the preceding points, was 
the media's suspension of critical analysis and investigatory zeal. For 
system-supportive claims of enemy evil, the mass media do not require 
much in the way of evidence or plausibility. They join a herd-like 
chorus with patriotic enthusiasm. As we have noted, the 1982 Sterling 
Reader's Digest article and the associated NBC-TV special contained 
no credible evidence of a Bulgarian Connection, and were crudely de- 
magogic. Analogous claims of CIA involvement in the Plot, if recog- 
nized at all, would have been carefully examined and scornfully dis- 
missed. 7 A propaganda system chooses its preferred myths and 
scenarios, disseminates them without critical scrutiny, and protects 
them from attack. Disinformation has free sway, eliciting no threatening 
flak; critics of that disinformation, who would elicit flak, are mar- 
ginalized. 8 

7. We show in Appendix D that the Soviet journalist [jna Andronov made a case Tor a 
CIA connection to Agca and the assassination attempt that is certainly more persuasive 
than the case made by Sterling against the KGB. Andronov's work is unknown in the 
United States. 

8. One media official told the authors that f or any criticisms of the Connection, the pro- 



180 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Following the huge spurt of publicity between December 1982 and 
February 1983, press coverage of the Bulgarian Connection fell to a 
lower level. But it was periodically renewed with fresh disclosures and 
new leaks from Rome. For example, in a long article in the New York 
Times on March 23, 1983, Nicholas Gage passed on claims made by 
French counterintelligence that a Bulgarian defector had implicated both 
the Bulgarian state security agency and the Soviet KGB in the papal as- 
sassination plot. The defector was Iordan Mantarov, supposedly a 
former deputy commercial attache at the Bulgarian Embassy in Paris, 
who repeated information he had allegedly received from one Dimiter 
Savov before defecting in July 1981. Mantarov identified Savov as a 
high ranking Bulgarian counterintelligence official. The Bulgarian gov- 
ernment responded that Mantarov had actually been a maintenance 
mechanic at a Bulgarian-owned company in Paris called Ag- 
romachinaimpeks, which exports farm equipment. In a small article re- 
porting the Bulgarian government's response on April 8, 1983, Craig R. 
Whitney, foreign editor of the New York Times, admitted that Mantarov 
was not listed on the Bulgarian Embassy roster, which as a commercial 
attache he certainly would have been. (The Bulgarians also denied that 
any "Savov" worked for the state security agency, and noted that this 
was a common Bulgarian surname.) 9 Despite the quick collapse of this 
apparently new evidence, the Mantarov story has retained its usefulness 
to the disinformationists: On the opening day of Agca's trial, for exam- 
ple, Paul Henze reminded Judy Woodruff on the MacNeil/Lehrer News 
Hour that the testimony of the Bulgarian defector Mantarov had con- 
gram would have had to make sure "of every comma." He noted thai such care was not 
required for pro-Plot programming. 

9. Gage's story, on which he supposedly spent two months while traveling to seven 
countries, appeared only days before his cover story in the New York Times Sunday 
Magazine describing his search, while working as a Times reporter, for the Greek Com- 
munist who reportedly murdered his mother during the civil war in the 1940s. In the arti- 
cle Gage described himself as armed and seeking vengeance, though he ultimately could 
not bring himself to act when he found the alleged murderer. The movie version of his 
book on the subject was reviewed critically in the New York Times. Jimmy Carr reports 
that Gage "thinks it may have stemmed from his unfashionable antileftist stance. 'I think 
there is a double standard in judging evil people if they're rightist or leftist,' he says " 
("Gage says 'Eleni' 'payment' to mother," Boston Globe, November 10, 1985.) In as- 
signing Gage to investigate the Bulgarian Connection, the Times undoubtedly considered 
him "objective" in reporting on a matter of potentially great East- West tension. 

For a devastating account of Gage's background and misrepresentations of history in 
Eleni, see Nikos Raptis, " 'Eleni': The work of a 'Professional Liar,' " CovertAction In- 
formation Bulletin, Number 25 (Winter 1986). 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



181 



firmed Agca's original testimony, which was suddenly threatened by 
Agca's announcement that he was Jesus Christ. 

Considerable news coverage was also generated by Agca's informal 
news conference of July 7, 1983. Emmanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a 
Vatican official, had been kidnapped, and messages purportedly from 
the kidnappers had demanded Agca's release in exchange for the kidnap 
victim. Agca was brought from his prison cell to a courtroom to testify 
on these events. In the process, the media were assembled and Agca 
was allowed to engage in some verbal exchanges with reporters. Agca 
reiterated his new devotion to liberty and shouted that the Bulgarians 
and the KGB were both involved in the assassination attempt. Agca's 
claims were broadcast on all U.S. television networks that evening; the 
introductory lead-in was that Agca had at last brought the KGB directly 
into the case. The new and highly significant retractions that Agca had 
made two weeks earlier, by contrast, were not leaked to the press (or 
were not reported by the press). In fact, Agca's retractions were not 
even hinted at by the media for the entire year that followed. 

The case took off with renewed vigor in June 1984 with a front-page 
article in the New York Times by Claire Sterling herself, giving an ac- 
count of the Albano Report. 10 This sparked a new set of follow-up arti- 
cles and interviews which stressed the enhanced likelihood of Bulgarian 
guilt, given the claims of the Italian prosecutor. Another surge of pub- 
licity took place in late October 1984, when Magistrate Martella issued 
his final Report, claiming the evidence sufficient to send the accused 
Bulgarian Antonov and others to trial . The beginning of the trial itself 
sparked a further stage of media interest, although the events of the trial, 
with Agca finally exposed to full public view, quickly began to erode 
the established presumption of Bulgarian guilt. 



The Dominance of Sterling, Henze, and Ledeen in Media 
Coverage 



As we noted in Chapter 2, for some months following the assassination 
attempt the main thrust of media attention was on Agca's Turkish fascist 
background. With the publication of Sterling's Reader's Digest article, 

10. New York Times, June 10, 1984. See below, pp. 190-94. In an extraordinary depar- 
ture from its standard practice, the Times gave Sterling a page-one by-line, and did not in- 
dicate that she was not a staff reporter (until the end of the article, on an inside page). 



182 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the airing of the NBC-TV programs of September 1982 and January 
1983, and Agca's declarations in November 1982, the media shifted en 
masse to an uncritical acceptance of the Bulgarian Connection. Sterling 
and Henze were quickly established as the "experts" on the Plot, and 
their line was institutionalized and preserved more or less intact until the 
beginning of the trial in May 1985. The predominance of Sterling and 
Henze (and to a lesser extent Ledeen) in mass media coverage of the 
subject cannot be described with precision, because much of their influ- 
ence was indirect, as others in the mass media read, heard, and absorbed 
their message. However, we have attempted to summarize their 
hegemonic position in the accompanying table, which describes their 
importance in nine major media outlets during two and a half years of a 
virtually uncontested line. 



Table 7.1. Sterling-Henze-Ledeen Dominance of Mass Media 
Coverage of the Bulgarian Connection, September 1982-May 198S. 



Media 
Outlet 


Domestic 
Circulation 
or Broadcast 
Audience 


Extent of 
Dominance 


Evidence 


Reader's 
Digest 


18, 012,397 s 


Complete 


Sponsor of Sterling (see text); 
no deviation to be found 


NBC-TV 


7,500,0OO b 


Virtually 
complete 


Kalb close ally of S-H, latter 
consultants on 2 major programs; 
no serious deviation 


MacNeil/ 
Lehrer 


3.000,000 c 


Virtually 
complete 


76% of time given to S-H-L; no 
dissident allowed (see text) 


Wall Street 
Journal 


1 .959.873" 


Virtually 
complete 


Sterling only outside commenta- 
tor, with 3 separate items, 
favorable book review and 
editorial citations; no dissent e 



a. Taken from Audit Bureau of Circulation figures for March-September 1984, The 
1985 IMSIAyer Directory of Publications. IMS Press, Fort Washington, Pa. 

b. Number of households estimated by Nielsen to have watched the NBC-TV program 
of September 21. 1982 on "The Plot Against the Pope." 

c. Average household audience in early 1985 as estimated by staff of the News Hour. 

d. For an analysis of the September 21,1 982 program, see Frank Brodhead and Edward 
S. Herman, "The KGB Plot to Assassinate the Pope: A Case Study in Free World Disin- 
formation," CovertAction Information Bulletin, Number 19, Spring-Summer 1983. 

e. Reflecting the dichotomy between the quality news offerings and pre-Neanderthal 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 
Table 7.1 Continued. 



183 



Domestic 
Circulation 
Media or Broadcast Extent of 

Outlet Audience / Dominance Evidence 



Christian 

Science 

Monitor 

CBS-TV 
News 

New York 
Times 



Newsweek 



Time 



141,247 Virtually 
complete 



11,200,000 Virtually 
complete 

934,530 a Virtually 
(daily) complete 
1,533,720 
(Sunday) 



3,037,277 Virtually 
complete 

4.630.687 3 Substantial 



Henze primary reporter- 
commentator, accounting for 1 2 
of 14 articles, Jan. 1, 1983- 
July 15, 1985 

3 in-depth interviews with 
Sterling; no dissent or critical 
analysis at any time (see text) 

Bought Henze information; used 
Sterling as news reporter; adopt- 
ed S-H line intact; no deviant 
facts or analyses allowed 
December 1982-May 1985 
(see text) 

Henze primary source of major 
article January 3, 1983; no 
deviation from S-H line 

No evidence of direct use, but as 
with Newsweek, no deviation 
from S-H line 6 



Editorial Page, while the latter offered pure Sterling through August I98S, the news col- 
umn put out the excellent pair of articles by Jonathan Kwilny cited in the text, although 
these did not appear until August 1985. 

f. An average value for households watching the daily evening news program in De- 
cember 1984 and January 1985, taken from the Nielsen National TV Rating Reports. 

g. Not only did Time follow the Sterling-Henze line, in an unusual footnote to one arti- 
cle it paid homage to Sterling as follows: "Late last year, Sterling brought out a book. The 
Time of the Assassins, that meticulously expounded the theory of a Bulgarian connection. 
It was greeted with some skepticism in many quarters, including the pages of the New 
York Times" ("Thickening Plot," June 25, 1984). As we discuss in the text, the slight 
skepticism shown in the New York Times was confined to two superficial and overgener- 
ous book reviews. 



The essence of the propaganda line that the Big Three successfully in- 
stitutionalized had six main elements: 

( 1 ) Agca is a credible witness. The belatedness of his confession, his 
lies, his retractions, and the lack of independent confirmation of his 



184 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



claims can all be explained and do not cast reasonable doubts on his pri- 
mary allegations. 

(2) The core evidence is Agca's stay in Sofia, Bulgaria, his claims of 
meetings with Bulgarian emissaries there, and his identification of Bul- 
garians in Rome with whom he allegedly conspired to carry out the as- 
sassination attempt. 

(3) The Bulgarians would not initiate such an act on their own. They 
were obviously being directed by the KGB. 

(4) The Bulgarians and Soviets may be presumed guilty on the basis 
of Agca's claims. 

(5) The motive which led them to this despicable act was their desire 
to quell the uprising in Poland by eliminating an individual lending the 
Poles moral support. 

(6) The wanton immorality and recklessness of the assassination at- 
tempt are the kinds of things we would expect of the Soviet leadership. 

The line was institutionalized by giving the Big Three the floor and 
making no effort to probe beneath their renditions of the Plot. As we 
described earlier, once a system-supportive propaganda theme is ac- 
cepted and pressed by the top media, it is sustained by popular belief as 
well as an institutional nexus. It becomes difficult and even risky to 
challenge the new line and easy to ignore dissent. In most instances the 
major media would not want to encourage dissent anyway. This was ob- 
viously true in the case of the Reader's Digest, where the line was con- 
veyed by exclusive reliance on Sterling. Other major media also pressed 
the party line with positive and uncritical enthusiasm. In the two major 
NBC-TV programs of 1982-83, Sterling and Henze were consultants 
and their imprint is clear throughout. Marvin Kalb, the narrator of these 
programs, provided the bulk of NBC-TV's subsequent coverage of the 
case, which continued to argue energetically for the Connection. Even 
CBS-TV News and the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, supposedly the 
more "liberal" purveyors of TV news, served as straight conduits of the 
propaganda line. A closer look at CBS and MacNeil/Lehrer, to which 
we now tum, shows how the disinformationists and media use each 
other. 

CBS-TV News. A review of CBS-TV News's coverage of the Bulgarian 
Connection between November 25, 1982, and September 30, 1984, 
shows that the program gave great play to Claire Sterling and attention 
to other supporters of the Bulgarian Connection hypothesis, but allowed 
not a single witness hostile to the line. Sterling was used in three long, 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



185 



in-depth interviews, during which she made all her standard points: The 
Bulgarians and Soviets are surely guilty, western intelligence agencies 
are dragging their feet, and the Pope himself believes in a Soviet-Bloc 
conspiracy. She was asked no critical (or intelligent) questions. CBS 
News also cited three different Bulgarian defectors to make the same 
points. Zbigniew Brzezinski was given an opportunity to assert his be- 
lief in the Bulgarian Connection and the need to take aggressive retalia- 
tory action. Agca's various claims of Bulgarian and Soviet involvement 
were broadcast on several occasions, without critical comment. No con- 
trary views were provided. 

CBS News also used a number of unnamed sources to allege Bulgar- 
ian involvement in the kidnapping and interrogation of General Dozier 
and in other unnamed Bulgarian "operations" in Italy. CBS used 
selected Italian news accounts that supported claims of a Bulgarian Con- 
nection and avoided the large number of news accounts that raised 
doubts about the Plot. In short, CBS News did not depart even once 
from an uncritical dissemination of the Sterling-Henze line in the period 
from November 1982 through September 1984. 

The MacNeillLehrer News Hour. The coverage of the Bulgarian Con- 
nection by the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour was also extraordinary for its 
conformist bias and absence of any application of critical intelligence. 
This is in line with the general character of the program, which has cho- 
sen the easy road of accommodating the powerful: obtaining established 
and mainly conservative brand names as news respondents, and then 
never asking them challenging questions. 

In the three programs on which the Bulgarian Connection was ad- 
dressed, there were only five individuals interviewed:" Paul Henze, 
Michael Ledeen, Claire Sterling, Harry Gelman, and Barry Carter. The 
Big Three accounted for 76 percent of the discussion time on these pro- 
grams. 12 Gelman was a former CIA officer and Carter a former member 
of the National Security Council. In short, there was no dissident or crit- 

1 1 . We exclude from (his count interviewees in a video insert on the subject from (he 
Canadian Broadcasting System, which was a segment or the News Hour program of May 
27, 1985. The quotations below are from the official transcript. 

12. The percentage would fall to 60 if we include the CBC documentary film, which 
itself used Sterling and did not depart in any way from the Sterling-Henze party line. The 
documentary, apparently based on an earlier Italian State Television production, used ac- 
tors to dramatize Agca's version of his movements and those of the Bulgarians im- 
mediately prior to the assassination attempt. 



186 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ical voice in any of these programs. CIA officer Gelman cautiously 
raised a few possible objections to the standard line, which in the end he 
did not dispute. He failed entirely to offset the aggressive and assured 
propaganda outpourings of the Big Three. 

The bias in news sourcing was reinforced by the failure to identify 
properly the Big Three. While Gelman was identified as a former CIA 
officer, in all three appearances on the News Hour Henze was described 
only as a consultant to Rand and a former member of Carter's National 
Security Council, not as a long-time CIA officer and former CIA chief 
of station in Turkey. (Mention of Henze's position on Carter's NSC 
may have been intended to suggest program balance, offsetting Le- 
deen's link to the Republicans.) Ledeen was identified only as as- 
sociated with the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International 
Studies and the State Department. No mention was made of his link to 
Francesco Pazienza or Licio Gelli of P-2, f acts which were already in 
the public domain in January 1983. Sterling was introduced by an awed 
Jim Lehrer as perhaps the "only" journalist expert on terrorism, and the 
first to report "authoritatively on the networks about terrorists." 13 

Putting before the public a trio of "experts" with enormous biases, 
the MacNeil-Lehrer team then proceeded to ask them a series of unintel- 
ligent and open-ended questions that almost always assumed in advance 
the truth of the Bulgarian Connection. 14 Of 55 questions asked on the 
three programs, only one had critical substance. (Robert MacNeil asked 
Henze about the 1979 Agca letter threatening to kill the Pope, sent out 
before Solidarity existed.) Otherwise the questions ran like this: (Mac- 
Neil) "Mr. Ledeen, is the Bulgarian Connection with Agcaand this plot 
credible to you?" (Lehrer to Sterling) "And there is no doubt in your 
mind about it, is there?" and "No question in your mind that the 
Soviets knew what was going on?" A great many of the questions were 
vague inquiries about opinions on Soviet involvement, Soviet reactions, 
and what our responses should be if the case should be proved. Judy 
Woodruff even asked Henze whether the Soviets might have "any de- 
sire to try this again," as if the fact of their guilt was already estab- 
lished. Jim Lehrer asked Henze, "Well, one piece of speculation I read 
today was that he [Agca] went from Iran to the Soviet Union. Is there 

13. In fact, reviews in the quality newspapers did not find her analysis of the terror net- 
work "authoritative." and scholarly reviews considered her work distressingly in- 
adequate. 

14. As we mentioned in Chapter 6, Henze insists on control over the script, which may 
help explain the almost complete absence probing questions 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



187 



anything to that?" Instead of a question based on fact or the internal 
logic of the case, Lehrer threw out a giveaway and biased piece of 
speculation that a professional propagandist would quickly take advan- 
tage of. Henze answered "Well, it is entirely possible." 

In his introductory remarks to the program of January 5, 1983, Lehrer 
gave a summary of the "facts" of the case that was both biased and er- 
roneous. For example, he said that in Turkey Agca was arrested f or the 
assassination of "a prominent newspaper editor." In fact, Ipekci was 
also a leading progressive editor, but including that would raise a ques- 
tion about Agca's affiliations. Lehrer said that after his escape from 
Turkey Agca traveled around, "ending up eventually in Sofia, Bul- 
garia." This is a distortion of fact. Agca started out through Bulgaria 
and ended up in Italy, and spent most of his travel time in countries of 
Western Europe. Lehrer stated as an unqualified fact that Agca "met 
three Bulgarians" in Sofia, and ended up asking Henze whether there is 
"anything you would add to my description of what the evidence is up 
'til now?" 

Besides open-ended questions without substance, the most notable 
feature of the interviewing style of the MacNeil-Lehrer team was their 
failure to ask questions that beg to be asked in the flow of the interview. 
For example, Henze said that "It's inconceivable that the Bulgarians, 
which [sic] does, after all, follow Turkish affairs closely and which is 
right next door, didn't know who Agca was." No question was raised 
by MacNeil or Lehrer on either how a single Turk with a false passport 
would be readily identifiable, or why Agca was not known to the au- 
thorities in West Germany, Switzerland, and Italy by similar reasoning. 
Henze also suggested that Agca was instructed by the Kremlin to write 
his 1979 letter threatening the Pope: "I can see no other reason why 
Agca would write a letter about the Pope. The Pope's visit to Turkey 
went off very successfully and there was no opposition to it." If Mac- 
Neil and Lehrer had done the least amount of homework they would 
have discovered that Gray Wolves ideology could explain the letter, and 
that Henze's statement that there was "no opposition" to the Pope's 
visit was a fabrication — the Nationalist Action Party-Gray Wolves press 
was violently hostile to the visit." The idea that Agca was under KGB 
discipline to the point that they would instruct him to write a specific let- 

15. In his book. Papa. Mafya. Agca (Istanbul: Tekin Yayinevi, 1984), Ugur Mumcu 
provided extensive evidence, including numerous quotations from the Turkish newspa- 
pers Hergun and Tercuman strongly hostile to the Pope's visit, to show that this claim of 
Henze's is a plain falsehood. 



188 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ter is not only lacking in a trace of evidence, it suggests further ques- 
tions. Henze had just told his interviewers, rather indignantly, that the 
Bulgarians surely must have recognized Agca when he entered from 
Turkey shortly after writing the 1979 letter. But if he was already under 
tight KGB discipline, the problem of recognition is foolish: Why would 
the Bulgarians want to "recognize" a KGB agent? A question that 
would arise with a coherent analysis is: How could the KGB and Bulga- 
rians be so foolish as to bring Agca to Sofia for an extended stay to get 
his instructions? But Henze 's confusion and the questions staring one in 
the face are never confronted by the kindly MacNeil-Lehrer inter- 
rogators. 

MacNeil-Lehrer never once asked about the massive violations of 
"plausible deniability" in the KGB-Bulgarian hiring of Agca, bringing 
him to Sofia, and then involving numerous Bulgarian officials in his 
Rome operation. They never raised a question about the enormous time 
lag in Agca's naming Bulgarians, nor the reports in the Italian press that 
Agca was given substantial inducement to talk, or the great convenience 
of the Plot from the standpoint of western political interests. Although 
the MacNeil-Lehrer show had run a program on the P-2 scandal, they 
never raised a question about the Italian political-judicial context or the 
conduct of the case. Sterling cited a report by the Italian secret service 
SISMI on the Soviet connection to Italian terrorism, but Lehrer never 
asked about SISMI's links to P-2 or the long history of Italian intelli- 
gence agency forgery and participation in rightwing destabilization 
plans. " When Sterling spoke about Agca's confessions being "corrobo- 
rated in astonishing detail," Lehrer was too ignorant or politically 
biased to ask an intelligent question based on Agca's retractions and the 
ability to produce "astonishing detail" about things he admitted he had 
never seen in his life. 

Sterling, Henze, and Ledeen all stressed with great energy how mar- 
velous Magistrate Martella was and how beautifully the Italian judicial 
process was working. Barry Carter added that "The Italians appear to 
be doing a good investigative job." MacNeil-Lehrer once again asked 
no questions. (E.g., "Mr. Carter, how do you know how good a job the 
Italians are doing given the secrecy of much of the process? How do you 
reconcile your statement with the frequent leaks that are supposedly 
contrary to Italian legal rules of secrecy?") 

Paul Henze told Judy Woodruff on June 25, 1985, that except for the 

16. See Chapter 4, pp. 86-99 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



189 



Soviet blaming of things on the CIA, "nobody has ever advanced any 
other explanation of the plot." This was a knowing fabrication, as a 
number of investigators in Europe and the United States, including the 
present authors, had given a two plot version of events: a Turkish plot to 
kill the Pope, and an Italian secret services/Mafia/rightwing plot to im- 
plicate the Bulgarians and Soviets by manipulating Agca. But Henze 
could contradict himself and tell outright lies without opposition on a 
program that allows the spokespersons for a propaganda line free and 
uncontested play. 



The New York Times-Sterling-Ledeen Axis 



In an editorial published on August 15, 1985, the New York Times fi- 
nally announced that the Plot being acted out in Rome was reminiscent 
of "a farce by Pirandello." By a coincidence, the present writers had 
described the case in similar terms many months earlier, but we 
explicitly mentioned the New York Times as an active participant in the 
farce: 17 

The Bulgarian Connection thus provides a scenario worthy of a plot by Piran- 
dello: Influential disinformation specialists linked to the Italian secret services 
and the Reagan administration create a useful scenario, sell it to the slow-mov- 
ing Italians, who then implement it — with the final touch being that the New 
York Times [el al.] . . . then rely on Henze, Sterling, and Ledeen to elucidate 
the real story on what the nefarious KGB has been up to! 

The Times'% editorial, however, took no credit for the farce. It is just 
that Agca now lacked credibility; there was no "independent confirma- 
tion" of his claims; he altered details at will; and there was a simpler 
hypothesis available — namely, "that the roots of the plot were in Tur- 
key." The Times asserted, of course, that Agca's earlier account "was 
sufficiently convincing" to have justified proceeding to a trial. But this 
is disingenuous. The Times swallowed Agca's earlier assertions without 
question, although they were not independently confirmed, and al- 
though he had a reputation as a "chronic liar" (in the words of the 
Times's own correspondent Marvine Howe). In its editorial of De- 
cember 18, 1982, the Times asserted as a positive fact that "he [Agca] 

17. Frank Brodhead and Edward S. Herman, "The KGB Plot to Assassinate the Pope: 
A Case Study in Free World Disinformation," CovertAction Information Bulletin, No. 19 
(Spring-Summer 1983), p. 5. 



190 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



checked into Sofia's best hotels," although this Agca claim was never 
"corroborated." In an editorial of June 21, 1984, the Times asserted 
that Agca's "detailed accounts of meetings with Bulgarian agents in 
Sofia and Rome . . . [have] been cross-checked and, with conspicuous 
exceptions, corroborated where possible." This evasive statement fails 
to mention that the corroborations were only negative; that is, the Bul- 
garians did not have alibis two years after the event adequate to satisfy 
Martella. 18 No evidence has ever been produced verifying the delivery 
of money for the assassination attempt or the rental of the getaway car, 
nor has a single person been found to testify that he or she had seen 
Agca with a Bulgarian. That is, by August 1985 nothing in the case had 
changed, except the Times' s assessment of its public salability. 

We described earlier how the New York Times's coverage of the Bul- 
garian Connection from December 1982 through March 1983 fits well a 
model of a propaganda operation. Apart from the initial flurry of inves- 
tigation in the immediate aftermath of the shooting (see Appendix A), 
the only independent research commissioned by the Times was that of 
Nicholas Gage, whose deeply flawed effort was discussed above. We 
saw in the previous section that the Times did not mention Agca's major 
retractions of June 28, 1983, for over a year. It also refused to entertain 
a word of dissenting opinion or analysis in thai period, although these 
were available and offered to it. 1 " In effect, the editors of the paper 
adopted the Sterling-Henze line as either true, politically useful, sala- 
ble, or some combination of these, and refused to look at the issue criti- 
cally or even allow minimal debate in its pages. 

The Albano Report. The low point in the Times' a coverage of the Bulga- 
rian Connection was reached on June 10, 1984, when the paper featured 
a long front-page story by Claire Sterling on the still "secret" Albano 
Report. Sterling was a strong-minded partisan on this issue, and while 
she had a background as a reporter, her recent work with the Reader's 
Digest and in her book The Terror Network indicated that she had de- 
teriorated from a mediocre Cold War reporter to a rightwing crank. 
Given her record, it was inevitable that Sterling would distort any news 

18 This is the subjeel to which Martella devoted his maximum energies See Chapter 

5. 

19. An excellent Op-Ed article by Diana Johnstone, European Editor of In These Times, 
which discussed the already impressive evidence that Agca had been threatened and in- 
duced lo implicate the Bulgarians, was rejected by the paper in 1983. A minor exception 
to the generalization in the text was a single letter lo the editor attacking the Connection 
writlen by Carl Oglesby. 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



191 



as a result of her commitment and ideology, and this is what she did 
with the Albano Report. 

The Albano Report is a highly political document, full of rhetorical 
flourishes and simple misstatements of fact ("Extraordinary is the at- 
tempt on his life f the Pope's] as the only such case in history"). 20 Al- 
bano dismissed the notion that there could be a frameup of Bulgarians as 
outmoded Cold War propaganda, because Italy had no grudge against 
Bulgaria and no political purpose could be served by such actions. 21 On 
the other hand, as the Bulgarians had been accused by Agca, any 
Bulgarian statements (as opposed to those of the politically neutral Ital- 
ian police) were statements of an interested party and must be regarded 
with suspicion." Furthermore, although the idea of any Italian advan- 
tage or interest in attacking the East was old Cold War stuff, there was 
an "iron logic" (a phrase repeated more than once) in the case suggest- 
ing an eastern assault on the institutions of the West. 

People who Albano found credible were: (I) Albano himself. Al- 
though a devout Catholic, a matter brought up by him in his Report, he 
was "without any political, religious or moral prejudice whatever."" 
(2) Agca. Although Albano acknowledged that Agca told many lies, he 
was cited as an authority for dozens of unconfirmed statements. (3) Ar- 
naud de Borchgrave, whose statements the Report refers to as "abso- 
lutely unquestionable."" (4) Officials of the Italian intelligence ser- 
vices. Because they stated for the record that they had not spoken to 
Agca on any serious matters, this settled the question of coaching for the 
Prosecutor. (5) Claire Sterling. Albano's Report parrots the Sterling line 

20. Report of May 8, 1984, of stale prosecutor Antonio Albano (hereafter Albano Re- 
port), p 2. A papal assassination had many precedents. According to one account: 

"Few popes in the century following John VIII died peacefully in their beds. As we 
have seen, John VIII himself was murdered; Stephen VI (896-97) strangled in prison; Be- 
nedict VI (973-74) smothered, John XIV (983-84) done to death in the Castel Sanf 
Angelo " Geoffrey Barraclough, The Medieval Papacy (New York: Harcourt, Brace & 
World, 1968), p. 63. This quotation is far from exhausting the record of papal assassina- 
tions and assassination attempts. 

21. Albano Report, p. 3 We pointed out earlier that the P-2 hearings on SISMI provide 
evidence from SISMI head Santovito himself that the organization had spent considerable 
effort trying to pin various crimes on the Communist Party and other political enemies. 
These documents were available to Albano (and to any American newspaper with enter 
prise and integrity) 

22. Albano Report, p. 4 

23. Ibid., p. 5. 
24 Ibid., p. 30. 



192 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



in such detail that she must be regarded as the intellectual godmother if 
not an actual co-author. Thus the Report uses the signaling theory, for 
example, with Agca bargaining for release by cautious disclosures. It 
stresses a la Sterling that Agca has always been consistent on the core of 
his charges — namely, that the originally named Bulgarians are guilty. It 
asserts that the changes Agca made in his testimony were always "spon- 
taneous," at his own initiative, and would not have occurred but for 
Agca's voluntary acts." As we discussed in Chapter 5, this is highly 
misleading: The initiatives frequently followed real world events that 
made his prior claims untenable. 

Albano added his own original touch to the motives for Agca's retrac- 
tions. He was signaling, but he was also telling Antonov and the Bulgar- 
ians that he bore them no grudges: "Essentially this is the hand held up 
to Antonov, an undoubted indication that Agca holds no malice, no per- 
verse acrimony, no venomous vindictiveness. " J6 Another wonderful 
touch is the Report's explanation of how Agca could know facts about 
apartments that he subsequently admitted never having visited. The an- 
swer is that Agca's retractions were false; Agca really had been to all of 
those places! Albano is the iron logician. Having disproved the coach- 
ing hypothesis — i.e., SISMI had no axe to grind, and said it was inno- 
cent — it follows by iron logic that Agca must have been to places he de- 
nied ever having seen. This is extremely convenient for the prosecution: 
Only assertions fitting the a priori iron logic of the case will be taken as 
true; others are disposed of as "the" lies! Thus the Albano Report states 
that "At these collective sessions [held by Agca with the Bulgarians in 
Rome] they also planned an attempt on the life of Lech Walesa who was 
visiting Italy in January 1981, and the possibility was contemplated to 
attack Walesa and the Pope simultaneously, as the two were scheduled 
to meet." 27 This Albano puts as fact, even though it is far-fetched, was 
never "independently corroborated" by anybody, and even though 
Agca later denied some of the meetings and his participation in the al- 
leged Walesa plot. 

Another illustration of the power of logic in Albano's Report is its use 
of Agca's lavish expenditures in Europe as evidence for eastern involve- 
ment in the assassination plot. At one point Albano noted that the Tur- 
kish drug Mafia had money, citing Agca's escape from prison in Turkey 
as a demonstration of "what the Mafia's money and efficiency can 

25. Ibid. , pp. 15-16. 

26. Ibid., p. 71 

27. Ibid., p. 21 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



193 



do." 28 He gave no evidence that the prison escape was not a strictly 
Gray Wolves operation, nor that money was important for a prison 
break. Later on, however, he asked, "How can we account for the 
money Agca squandered so lavishly on hotel accommodations, restau- 
rants, " etc., unless we trace it to a political source and by iron logic to 
the Bulgarians? The answer he gave earlier and had forgotten was that 
the Turkish-Gray Wolves drug connection yielded a great deal of 
money. 

Reading Sterling in the New York Times of June 10, 1984, one would 
have missed all sense of the bias, incompetence, and comedy that Al- 
bano's Report affords. Readers would also not have been informed 
about the one new major fact in the Report that up to that time had been 
kept out of the U.S. press — namely, that on June 28, 1983, Agca had 
retracted a significant portion of his evidence. Sterling's only hint at the 
retraction runs as follows: 

Despite widespread press reports, Mr. Agca will probably not have to face the 
curious charge of "self-slander and slander" that arose from his brief retraction 
of some testimony that had already been corroborated. Judge Martella sent him 
a communication that he was under investigation for such charge last September 
in regard to certain confusing allegations of his in the Lech Walesa plot. 

The serious misrepresentations in these sentences may be seen from 
the following: 

(1) What Sterling calls "confusing allegations" was Agca's state- 
ment that he had lied about having participated in a plot to murder 
Walesa! Although he had described Walesa's hotel in detail, he admit- 
ted that he had never seen it, and that he had never met the Bulgarian 
diplomat whom he had identified from a photo as a co-conspirator. 
There is nothing "confusing" in these allegations. 

(2) Sterling states that Agca only retracted testimony that "had al- 
ready been corroborated." This is a fabrication. Agca withdrew the 
claims that he had met Mrs. Antonov and her daughter and visited An- 
tonov's apartment. Agca's ability to recall precise details of the apart- 
ment had been previously advanced by the Sterling school as proof of 
his claims. His description of Mrs. Antonov was taken as "corrobora- 
tion" of his claim to have met her. In no other sense were Agca's claims 
"corroborated," and the dishonesty of Sterling's assertions in the face 
of Agca's admitted lying about "corroborated evidence" is extraordi- 

28. Ibid., p 9 



194 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



nary. Even the prosecutor admitted the serious effect of these retractions 
on Agca's credibility, but in her purported news article Sterling sup- 
pressed both Agca's retractions and Albano's statement on the meaning 
of those retractions. 

Following the June 10, 1984 front-page article, the New York Times 
ran another front-page article by Sterling on October 27, 1984, in which 
she finally acknowledged Agca's retractions of June 28, 1983. Even 
here, however, the bulk of the article was devoted to presenting the de- 
tails of the claims which Agca had withdrawn, and she tried to minimize 
the significance of the retractions by her usual formulas. Once again she 
asserted that Agca's original confessions provided a wealth of details 
that were "independently confirmed." But if Agca wasn't there — either 
at Walesa's hotel or Antonov's apartment — independent corroboration 
is not only meaningless, it also points to judicial fraud. Sterling then re- 
sorted to her signaling theory, claiming like Albano that Agca really 
was there, and that his retractions were false. According to Sterling, he 
was responding to the kidnapping of Emmanuela Orlandi on June 22, 
1983. We have discussed her signaling theory in Chapter 6 and shown 
its complete implausibility, but also its great utility for ex post facto 
rationalization of anything one wishes to prove. 

The Trial. Once the trial in Rome was under way, the Times's on-the- 
scene reporter was John Tagliabue. Tagliabue had been the Times' s re- 
porter in Germany when the assassination attempt occurred. At that time 
he contributed several useful articles on the Gray Wolves in West Ger- 
many, and on the West German government's unsuccessful efforts to 
determine whether and how long Agca stayed there and the nature of his 
activities. His performance during the trial, by contrast, illustrates the 
hegemony of the Sterling model in shaping the Times's coverage of the 
Connection. 

Tagliabue' s troubles began on the first day of the trial, when Agca de- 
clared that he was Jesus Christ. This extraordinary claim was not fea- 
tured in the headline of his article the next day ("Prosecutor Asks 
Broader Inquiry in Trial of Agca"), nor in the first paragraph of the 
text, although the day before (with Sterling's collaboration") Tagliabue 
had stressed Agca's credibility as the key issue in the case. Immediately 
after noting Agca's self -identification as Jesus, Tagliabue hastened to 

29. Articles by Sterling on the trial appeared in the New York Times of May 27, 1985 
(the opening date of the trial) and on August 6. 1985 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



195 



stress Agca's "thoughtful and measured account of how he obtained the 
gun." It was still backup time, not bailout time. The trial next made the 
front page on June 12, when Agca claimed to have heard that a Soviet 
aide had paid money to have the Pope killed. On the other hand, when 
the Pandico revelations appeared, providing something close to a 
"smoking gun" for the coaching hypothesis, an article about that was 
rather inconspicuously placed on page 5. 30 In the course of the latter arti- 
cle, Tagliabue said that Ascoli Piceno prison, where Agca was housed, 
is "notoriously porous." This symbolized the beginning of a shift from 
backup to bailout time — the New York Times had never before thought 
Agca's prison conditions were relevant to the case, and they had cer- 
tainly never alerted their readers to the fact that Agca's prison was 
"notoriously porous." But the case was becoming notably porous, and 
the rats were getting ready to abandon ship. 

Up to the recess of the trial in August 1985, however, Tagliabue es- 
sentially held fast to the Sterling line, peddling Agca and his claims as 
objective news. A number of elements of the Sterling perspective can be 
traced in his reporting. 

( 1 ) The Bulgarians and the Soviets had an adequate motive for the as- 
sassination attempt based on Polish unrest and the Pope's opposition to 
leftism in the Third World. No counterargument was ever suggested by 
Tagliabue, and his news coverage tended to suppress incompatible facts 
or claims. On June 7, for example, Judge Santiapichi asked Agca about 
the note found on his person on May 13, 1981, which described the 
shooting as a political act, a protest against "the killings of thousands of 
innocent peoples by dictatorships and Soviet and American im- 
perialism." Agca acknowledged that the note represented his views and 
that he had acted for "personal motives." Michael Dobbs, writing in 
the Washington Post, 31 pointed out that: 

The note appeared to contradict his subsequent attempts to present himself as "a 
terrorist without ideology" who had agreed to shoot the Pope in return for the 
equivalent of Si. 2 million by the Bulgarian secret service. The mercenary mo- 
tive has been accepted as accurate by an Italian stale prosecutor. 

These themes were also central to Claire Sterling's analysis. John 
Tagliabue in the New York Times failed to mention this exchange during 

30. New York Times, June 17, 1985 

31. "Agca Refuses to Testify on Accomplices," June 8, 1985. 



196 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the trial. Similarly, in testimony given by Yalcin Ozbey on June 19, the 
witness suggested that Agca's real motive in shooting the Pope was his 
hunger for fame. This claim also never reached the readers of the Times. 

(2) The case was an embarrassment to the Italian government, which 
pursued it reluctantly . This classic Sterling line was pressed in the arti- 
cle Tagliabue wrote jointly with Sterling on May 27, 1985. Characteris- 
tically, no mention was made of any possible political benefits that 
might have accrued to Craxi and others in bringing the case. 

(3) No mention was made by Tagliabue or Sterling of P-2, Pazienza, 
Ledeen, or Italian political conditions until after the Pandico bombshell. 

(4) There was a steady reiteration of the Sterling cliche that Agca 
"has not budged from his basic contention that Bulgarians, and thus the 
Soviet Union, commissioned and financed the plot to murder the 
Pope." 33 And this clich6 is not true. As noted above, Agca stated before 
the Court on June 7, 1985, that he had acted for "personal" motives 
with the intent of making a political protest, which contradicts the 
mercenary hypothesis. Even more dramatic, on March 3, 1986, Agca 
returned to the witness stand after a long absence, immediately after 
Marini's summing up and request for dismissal of the case against the 
Bulgarians, to reiterate the point he made in the letter threatening to 
shoot the Pope in 1979: that he had committed his act because of the 
crimes of western Christianity. "I thought I should strike at western 
civilization and Christianity in the person of the Pope because they have 
been repressive and oppressive of the people." In explaining his actions 
of May 13, 1981, he made no mention of the Bulgarians or KGB. Tag- 
liabue and the Times blacked out this statement. 

(5) Tagliabue swallowed the signaling theory and Agca's "double 
game." "By his own admission," wrote Tagliabue, Agca was playing 
a double game, which seemed "to play into the hands of the defense at- 
torneys" who claimed that Agca was coached." The use of "admis- 
sion" we have already seen to be a manipulative device of the Sterling- 
Henze school. Tagliabue does not say that Agca "admitted" he was 
Jesus Christ. There are alternative explanations to the signaling theory; 
Agca could be a crazy opportunist, in which case he is revealing his true 
nature. The phrase "playing into the hands of" the Bulgarian defense 
reflects Tagliabue's and the Times's identification with the case for the 
prosecution. 

(6) Tagliabue regularly understated the number of contradictions in 
Agca's testimony. As Michael Dobbs wrote in the Washington Post: 
"Agca has changed elements of his story almost continuously in the last 

32. New York Times. August 6. 1985 
33 Ibid., June 22. 1985. 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



197 



four years. The session of the conspiracy trial yesterday, however, ap- 
peared to set a record for the scale and rapidity of corrections offered by 
Agca to earlier descriptions of the logistic^ of the assassination at- 
tempt." 34 John Tagliabue, writing in the New York Times, was much 
more circumspect. 

(7) Tagliabue raised no questions about how Martella assembled a 
case based on Agca's testimony, given the evidence accumulating in 
court that Agca lied and contradicted himself on an hourly basis and suf- 
fered from serious delusions. 

(8) Following prosecutor Antonio Marini's recommendation on Feb- 
ruary 27, 1986, that the Bulgarian defendants be acquitted for lack of 
evidence, Tagliabue chose to feature heavily the prosecutor's attack on 
the judge for failing to admit additional witnesses, and the fact that Ma- 
rini called upon the jury to make its own decision." 

The Times and the Disinformationists. We noted earlier that the New 
York Times not only used Sterling as a reporter and source of data and 
themes, it also suppressed inf ormation about her credentials. Her books 
were regularly reviewed: The Time of the Assassins was reviewed in 
both the daily and Sunday New York Times. Her reliance on Czech Gen- 
eral Sejna, an established liar-informer, as a key source in The Terror 
Network has never been disclosed to Times readers; and the slander suits 
over her smearing of Henri Curiel were never mentioned in the Times. 

Equally compromising has been the New York Times's alliance with 
and protection of Michael Ledeen. Ledeen was given Op-Ed column 

34. Washington Post, June 26, 1985. 

35. "Rome Prosecutor Urges Acquittal of 3 Bulgarians," New York Times, February 
28, 1986. Tagliabue pretended that there was a serious chance that the jury would override 
the prosecutor and find the Bulgarians guilty, which was foolish and naive He also dis- 
played the same kind of political naivete that we noted above under (2); Marini's rhetoric 
was taken at face value, and Tagliabue never hinted at the possibility that the prosecutor 
might be protecting his colleagues in the Italian establishment, who had initiated and 
enthusiastically supported a case that was suffering such a dismal ending. Tagliabue of- 
fered no analysis of the causes of the failure, despite the long record of claims by the New 
York Times and its favored sources that Bulgarian guilt was all but proved. Apart from the 
Marini gambit, Tagliabue blamed the denouement on Agca's undermining of the case, 
without explaining why none of Agca's claims of Bulgarian involvement had ever been 
confirmed by a single independent witness over the course of a four-year period of investi- 
gation and trial. 



198 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



space twice in 1984-85," allowing him to issue a call for the greater ap- 
plication of force in Lebanon and to stress the greater importance of Na- 
tional Security than individual liberty — themes that would delight the 
heart of Licio Gelli. Ledeen's book Grave New World was given a sub- 
stantial and favorable notice in the Sunday New York Times Book Re- 
view. 

Perhaps more serious has been the New York Times' 's cover-up of Le- 
deen's role in Italy and his unsavory linkages to Italian intelligence and 
the Italian Right. The Times has never mentioned his connections with 
Santovito, Gelli, and Pazienza, 37 his controversial sale of documents to 
SISMI, or the fact that the head of Italian military intelligence stated be- 
fore the Italian Parliament that Ledeen was an "intriguer" and unwel- 
come in Italy. 38 Actually, the Times's suppressions on Ledeen have been 
part of a larger package of suppressions that excluded any information 
that would disturb the hegemony of the Sterling-Henze line. Thus, just 
as Sterling and Henze never mention P-2 in their writings, so the Times 
failed even to mention the Italian Parliamentary Report on P-2 of July 
12, 1984, which raised many inconvenient questions about the quality 
of Italian society and the intelligence services. The Parliamentary Com- 
mission, which held extensive hearings on SISMI (published in five vol- 
umes), was also blacked out for readers of the Times. In July 1985 an 
Italian court pronounced sentence against Francesco Pazienza and other 
officials of SISMI for serious crimes. The accompanying 185-page re- 
port described spectacular abuses of secret service authority in Italy, 39 
including the forging and planting of documents. Although these crimes 
were committed by individuals regularly linked in the Italian press to the 
Bulgarian Connection, this report and sentence were also suppressed by 
the Times. We believe that it is precisely this connection — and the fact 
that these sensational documents would raise questions about Ledeen 
and the Sterling-Henze portrayal of the Bulgarian Connection — that 
caused the Times to avoid providing its readers with such information. 

For years the Italian press carried reports of SISMI and Mafia in- 
volvement in threatening and coaching Agca. The New York Times re- 
frained from mentioning, let alone investigating, these matters. The first 
reference to Pazienza in the Times came only with his arrest on March 
24, 1985, and the article appeared in the Business Section of the paper. 

36. Michael Ledeen, "Be Ready To Fight," Sew York Times. June 23, 1985; and 
"When Security Preempts the Rule of Law," New YorkTimes, April 16, 1984 

37. A minor exception is noted in the text below. 

38. Maunzio De Luca, "Fuori I'intrigante." L Espresso , August 5, 1984. 
39 See Chapter 4, pp. 00-000 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



199 



The author, E. J . Dionne, never asked why Pazienza, wanted in Italy for 
over a year, had never been extradited. He failed to mention that 
Pazienza was wanted in Italy in connection with serious abuses by the 
intelligence services, including involvement in the Bologna railroad sta- 
tion bombing. When it came to Pazienza' s involvement with Michael 
Ledeen, the reporter telephoned Ledeen, who told him that Pazienza 
had exaggerated his influence with the Reagan administration, and that 
he himself had had only a very brief, unspecified relation with Pazienza. 
Dionne raised no questions and tapped no alternative information 
sources. He had all the news fit to print. 

From December 1982 through February 1986 the New York Times 
featured heavily and almost exclusively claims of prosecutors and pro- 
ponents of the Plot. After a long trial in which the claims of the pro- 
secutor were once again explored in great detail, the prosecution rested 
at the end of February, acknowledging its lack of an adequate case 
against the Bulgarians by asking for a dismissal for lack of evidence. It 
was finally the defense's turn to present its case. The Italian counsel for 
Antonov took the floor March 4, and finished his presentation on March 
8. His powerful statement, which assailed the Martella investigation 
mercilessly, described in detail the evidential weakness of the case, and 
gave powerful support to the coaching hypothesis, was blacked out in 
the New York Times (and the rest of the mass media). This completes the 
circle of propaganda service, with the preferred line pushed as long as it 
could be issued as news without gross embarrassment, and then failing 
to give the defense even minimal coverage, even after it is apparent to 
all that the preferred line has been discredited. This process suggests the 
unlikelihood that any retrospectives will be provided that might explain 
the reasons for the failure — and the media's gullible and uncritical trans- 
mission — of a case long portrayed as cogent and true. 



The Small Voices of Dissent 



There were serious voices of dissent in the mass media, but they were 
few and without serious effect on the general run of media opinion and 
reporting. The only major TV program to challenge the Sterling-Henze 
line before the 1985 trial was an ABC-TV News "20/20" show on May 
12, 1983. In that program ABC did some very remarkable and unique 
things: It investigated the obvious leads and implausibilities in the Ster- 
ling-Henze line with diligence, it went at it with an open and somewhat 



200 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



skeptical view of the truth of the case, and it tapped a wide array of 
sources. The results were devastating. It established from drug enforce- 
ment officials that Agca's travels fit well into the pattern of movement 
of the international drug trade. Citing Mumcu and others, it stressed 
Agca's psychopathic personality and overweening desire to be in the 
limelight. It effectively disposed of the alleged letter from the Pope to 
Brezhnev, citing Cardinal Krol (a Vatican-appointed spokesman) and 
other Vatican officials, who denied the existence of such a letter and 
claimed that verbal messages from the Pope at the time were concilia- 
tory. It pointed out the many ways in which the implementation of the 
plot violated basic laws of spycraft (e.g., planning meetings in Bulga- 
rian residences). It pointed up strategic errors in Agca's evidence (mis- 
takes in describing Antonov's apartment, and the alleged presence of 
Mrs. Antonov, who was in Sofia). It showed how Agca adjusted his tes- 
timony to take account of Bulgarian counterclaims (e.g., pushing back 
the meeting time with Antonov on May 13, given Antonov's strong alibi 
for the originally "confessed" time). Examining the Bulgarian alibis, 
ABC found them partly convincing. It discussed the problem of the lan- 
guage barrier between Antonov and Agca. And it cited ABC's own in- 
telligence and police contacts to cast doubts on the testimony of Man- 
tarov and on the general validity of the case. 

In brief, the ABC inquiry was an eye-opener, raising many questions 
and providing partial and skeptical answers. Nevertheless, the pro- 
gram's information fell still-bom from the tube. Although it received 
powerful support from Agca's retractions one month later, the retrac- 
tions were not leaked and publicized, and so did not strengthen the skep- 
tical case. The Sterling-Henze line held firm in the mass media for 
another year. 

The most important dissenting voice in the mass media was that of 
Michael Dobbs, the Washington Post's Rome correspondent, who 
began to present an alternative and cautiously critical view following 
Sterling's June 10, 1984 misrepresentation of the Albano Report. In a 
series of articles beginning on June 18, 1984 — eight days after the 
Times carried Sterling's rendition of Albano's Report — Dobbs began to 
provide U.S. readers a second opinion. While featuring Albano's con- 
clusion that the Bulgarians were behind the plot, Dobbs also noted in his 
opening paragraph that the evidence was "largely circumstantial"; and 
in the fifth paragraph he said that "much of the circumstantial evidence 
. . . could undermine rather than confirm the conspiracy theory. . . . " 
The remainder of Dobbs's lengthy article questioned Agca's reliability, 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



201 



noted Agca's June 28, 1983 retraction of most of his previous declara- 
tions, and presented evidence that appeared to undermine fatally the 
Truck Ploy. A month later, on July 22, 1984, Dobbs returned to the at- 
tack, noting in an article headlined "Probers Divided Over Evidence in 
Pope Attack" that there were many loose ends in the case and that Agca 
lacked credibility. 

This was too much for Claire Sterling. In an Op-Ed column in the 
Washington Post ("Taking Exception," August 7, 1984), Sterling ac- 
cused Dobbs of "numerous omissions or misstatements." She alleged 
"a curious ignorance of how this investigation developed," and main- 
tained that "while Dobbs dwells on [Agca's] retraction," he failed to 
take note that "practically everything Agca tried to take back had been 
substantiated already, and not a single point in the retraction changed 
the basic lines in Agca's story." 

In a reply in the Post a fe w days later (August 10, 1 984), Dobbs noted 
Sterling's "tendency to conclude that anybody who questions her thesis 
that the assassination attempt has already been shown to be a Soviet- 
bloc conspiracy is accepting Bulgarian arguments." But he dwelt 
primarily on Sterling's essential dishonesty in failing to include in her 
story that Albano's Report had raised the issue of Agca's "retractions" 
of June 28, 1983. In a separate document, made available to readers on 
request, he accused Sterling of omitting sections of the Report "that call 
into question Agca's credibility." This document lists a further dozen 
errors that Sterling made in her statement in the Post about Dobbs's re- 
porting on the case, including clear misstatements of what Albano's Re- 
port actually says. Later, in a four-part series in the Washington Post in 
mid-October 1984, Dobbs relocated the root of the assassination attempt 
in the Turkish right wing, raised severe doubts about Agca's credibility 
and his allegations of working for the Bulgarians, and traced the evolv- 
ing "confessions" to show that they were merely embellishments on a 
first-approximation tale that was corrected by information learned from 
the media and perhaps from the questions asked him by his inter- 
rogators. 

During the last half of 1984 and in the early phase of the 1985 trial 
Michael Dobbs's writing on the Plot gave readers of the Washington 
Post (and some subscribers to the Post's news service) a nearly unique 
channel of information, providing a well-reasoned alternative to the 
near tidal wave of pro-Plot outpourings from the publishers of Sterling, 
Henze, and their allies. Dobbs raised many questions, pointed up 
Agca's numerous lies and contradictions, and showed in a variety of 



202 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ways the weaknesses of the Italian handling of the case. One of Dobbs's 
chief contributions was to trace a large proportion of Agca's claims to 
the Italian media, and to demonstrate the extensive access that Agca had 
to outside information which would help him develop his claims and de- 
clarations. 

Despite these merits, Dobbs was unable to break free of the cliches 
that Martella was "wise" and "judicious," and that the coaching 
hypothesis was a "Bulgarian argument." 40 In his exchange with Ster- 
ling, Dobbs was on the defensive, claiming that his own role was report- 
ing "both sides, in contrast to Sterling." In the end this lone mass 
media reporter, who had built up an impressive case against the Connec- 
tion, was unable to state a firm conclusion. This is arguably reasonable; 
a reporter can give the facts and let readers make up their own minds. In 
the context, however, nobody in the mass media was drawing negative 
conclusions on the Plot. Sterling, Henze, and their allies suffered no 
such constraints. They were free to assert Bulgarian and Soviet guilt, 
and even to denounce doubters as victims of Soviet disinformation. The 
contrast tells us a great deal about the power of the political forces that 
originated and sustained the case. 



The Intellectuals: Somnolence and Complicity 



Between 1982 and 1985, when the Bulgarian Connection became incor- 
porated into the public's consciousness, the academic community re- 
mained almost totally silent on the subject. Journals in the fields of 
political science, international relations, and Near Eastern studies re- 
cord only a single article on the Bulgarian Connection. Academic intel- 
lectuals were content to allow this issue to be monopolized by the Big 
Three and their allies at the Georgetown CSIS. While the academicians 

40. As late as June 19,1 985, Dobbs was still asserting that "Soviet Bloc propagandists 
and leftist Italian newspapers have claimed for some time that Agca was 'fed' in prison 
with details on the Bulgarians he later accused of being his accomplices, but have so far 
failed to provide convincing evidence to support their assertions." This reference to 
"Soviet Bloc propagandists" is the same kind of Sterlingesque designation that Dobbs 
objected to when applied to himself. Furthermore, il isn't even accurate. A fair number of 
analysts not reasonably designated as "Soviet Bloc propagandists and leftist Italian news- 
papers" have claimed that Agca was coached. What is "convincing evidence" is a matter 
for debate, but Dobbs has never explained how Agca could have given details about An- 
tonov's apartment that were never previously published and that Agca admitted he had 
never seen. 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



203 



were no doubt dealing with more important matters, they may also have 
been constrained by the fact that the links between academic political 
scientists, international relations specialists, conservative thinktanks, 
and the federal government are extensive and pervasive. The silence of 
the academy is evidence that these are to a great extent coopted disci- 
plines, "handmaidens of inspired truth. '"" The Bulgarian Connection is 
an inspired truth. 

We mentioned earlier that Michael Ledeen's book Grave New World 
was favorably reviewed in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. 
The reviewer, William E. Griffiths, a Professor of Political Science at 
MIT, remarked parenthetically that "his [Ledeen's] discussion of the 
probable Soviet involvement in the plot to kill the Pope is surely cor- 
rect." 42 Griffiths gives no support for this statement. But Griffiths, who 
is a "roving editor" for the Reader's Digest, is also on the Editorial 
Board of Or bis, a semi-academic journal which carried the lone "schol- 
arly" article on the plot. Perhaps this was the source from which Grif- 
fiths deduced the validity of the Connection. 

The "scholarly" article was published in Orbis in the Winter 1985 
issue. Entitled ' 'The Attempted Assassination of the Pope, ' ' it was writ- 
ten by Thomas P. Melady and John F. Kikoski, members of the faculty 
of Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, Connecticut. 43 The most notable 
feature of this piece is its complete and uncritical reliance on Claire 
Sterling, Paul Henze, and Michael Ledeen as authorities on the subject. 
The article is, in fact, a rehash of the works of these authors. Thirty- 
three of 78 footnotes are to the works of the Big Three. A further 15 
footnotes cite Sterling's version of the Albano Report. The remainder of 
the citations range from NBC's Marvin Kalb and the Reader's Digest to 
quotations from Henry Kissinger, Richard Pipes, and Zbigniew 
Brzezinski. Michael Ledeen's Commentary article is described as "a 
thorough treatment of media coverage of this affair and of the reluctance 
of the 'elite media' to more actively pursue this story. . . . "** The au- 

41 . See Robert A. Brady, The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism (New York: 
Viking, 1937). Chapter 2, "Science, Handmaiden of Inspired Truth," described the 
accommodation of German scientists to the social philosophy of the Nazi state. 

42. New York Times Book Review, May 19, 1985. 

43. Melady is also President of the University. He has been U.S Ambassador to 
Burundi and Uganda and a Senior Adviser to the U.S. Delegation al the United Nations. 

44. Thomas P. Melady and John F. Kikoski, "The Attempted Assassination of the 
Pope," Orbis (Winter 1985), p. 777, n. 4. The Commentary article was incorporated into 
Ledeen's book Grave New World. The contents of that chapter are discussed above in 
Chapter 6. 



204 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



thors cite the Albano Report as an authoritative and objective document, 
and refer to its "exhaustive documentation" of various matters, al- 
though they acknowledge never having read the Report. They rely on 
Sterling's summary and her general inferences based on her own read- 
ing of the document. 45 This lures them into citing at length Agca's "re- 
markable details" on the Walesa plot and Antonov's apartment, oblivi- 
ous to the fact that the Albano Report acknowledged that on June 28, 
1983 Agca admitted that he had either concocted or knew only by hear- 
say these "remarkable details." 

The authors never cite Michael Dobbs's four-part critique of the pro- 
secution's case, nor any other reporter or analyst with a different view- 
point. When ABC-TV in 1983 checked the specifics of the Kalb-NBC 
claim that the Pope had sent a warning note to Brezhnev, it came up 
with sharply contradictory facts. 4 * Melady and Kikoski give the straight 
Kalb-NBC version, never hinting that it had been disputed. Agca's 
claims which Sterling and Henze selectively chose to fit their model are 
also presented as valid, even where they have been retracted. Henze's 
version of the alleged Soviet attempt to destabilize Turkey is presented 
as uncontested truth — alternative facts and an alternative literature are 
simply ignored. Henze's possible bias is suppressed and the authors 
adopt Henze's own form of nondisclosure of his background — the 
former CIA station chief in Turkey is said to have "a strong piior back- 
ground in Turkish affairs, and presently is a research scholar [sic] with 
the Rand Corporation." 

Melady and Kikoski do not even take into consideration contrary evi- 
dence from sources with which they are apparently familiar. For exam- 
ple, they (along with Sterling and Henze) continue to rely on Nicholas 
Gage's story about the Bulgarian defector Mantarov, long after the 
Times' s foreign editor Craig Whitney had essentially conceded the truth 
of the Bulgarians' denials and refutations of Mantarov's contentions. 
The list of problems which the Orbis authors sidestepped by ignoring in- 
convenient evidence is a long one, encompassing all those that would be 
relevant to a work of serious academic scholarship. In short, Melady 
and Kikoski provided the academic world with a Reader's Digest article 
salted with a few footnotes. 47 

45. "Sterling, who has read the as yet unreleased Albano Report in its entirety, wrote 
that: 'Judicial belief in Mr. Agca's confession was apparently fortified by a mass of cor- 
roborative evidence'." Ibid., p. 799. 

46. See the discussion of the ABC program in the preceding section of this chapter. 

47. That it was published by Orbis is revealing. Orbis is published by the Foreign Pol- 



SEVEN: DISSEMINATION OF THE PLOT 



205 



The real function of articles like this Orbis production is their "echo 
chamber" service. Relying entirely on Sterling and company, Melady 
and Kikoski provide a nominally "scholarly article" confirming the 
Sterling-Henze claims. This is now available for citation as scholarly 
confirmation of the truth of the Sterling-Henze claims. 48 Thus Henze 
cites this work in support of his own conclusions in his 1985 update of 
The Plot to Kill the Pope, and it will undoubtedly provide others with a 
respectable citation for the Sterling-Henze version of the story, despite 
its wholly derivative and uncritical properties. Readers unfamiliar with 
the "echo chamber" might conclude that Melady and Kikoski had 
sifted evidence possibly unavailable to Henze, or that they had 
examined competing hypotheses and come down on Henze's side. 
Readers who have not read the Orbis article would have no way of 
knowing that Henze, in citing Melady-Kikoski, is simply citing himself 
(and Sterling) at second hand. Thus disinformation echoes through the 
chamber to create the illusion of independent scholarly confirmation. 



icy Research Institute, a conservative thinktank affiliated with the International Relations 
program of the University of Pennsylvania. Its editorial board of 35 academics and 
thinktank intellectuals includes 24 members currently on the staffs of universities, among 
them William Van Cleave, Allen Whiting, Robert Scalapino, Paul Seabury, William Grif- 
fiths, Richard Pipes. The thinktank members include Colin Gray of the Hudson Institute 
and Lawrence B. Krause of the Brookings Institution. Presumably this article meets this 
group's conception of scholarly standards. 

48. A fine example of this process was the alleged admission by Khmer Rouge leader, 
Khieu Samphan, that his government had slaughtered a million people. His statement was 
reportedly made in an interview with a remote Italian journal, Famiglia Cristiana, in 
1976. It is extremely doubtful that this interview ever took place, but translations and mis- 
translations abounded. A mistranslation by John Barron and Anthony Paul of the Reader's 
Digest was cited by Donald Wise in the Far Eastern Economic Review, which was then 
cited by Professor Karl Jackson in Asian Survey as authentic evidence Jackson provided 
the "scholarly" source to be cited further For a fuller discussion see Noam Chomsky and 
Edward S. Herman, After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the Reconstruction of 
Imperial Ideology (Boston: South End Press, 1979), pp. 172-77 



8. Conclusions 



It is an important truth that "necessity is the mother of invention." 
This was true of the Bulgarian Connection, which was needed by the 
New Cold Warriors in the United States, by Craxi, Spadolini, Gelli, 
Santovito, and the Vatican in Italy, and by others. Thus, as in the case 
of many inventions, this one had multiple authorship. With the shooting 
of the Pope on May 13, 1981, a number of different individuals im- 
mediately knew in their hearts that the KGB did it — or ought to have 
done it — and from several independent sources there soon emerged 
claims that the KGB did do it. 



The Bulgarian Connection as Western Disinformation 



That the idea of the Bulgarian Connection was conceived early and 
pushed by a number of independent sources, none of whom had any evi- 
dence for the Connection, is one of several lines of accumulating evi- 
dence pointing more and more conclusively to the Bulgarian Connection 
as a product of both deliberate disinformation and some form of ma- 
nipulation and coaching of the imprisoned Agca. It is now known, for 
example, that the Italian secret service agency SISMI issued a document 
on May 19, 1981 — within a week of the assassination attempt — which 
claimed that the Plot had been announced by a Soviet official at a 
gathering of the Warsaw Pact nations in Bucharest, Rumania, and that 
Agca had been trained in the Soviet Union.' This report was pure disin- 
formation, generated from within SISMI or supplied in whole or part 
from some other intelligence source. It is an important document in two 
respects: It shows that the idea of pinning the crime on the East came 

I . The points summarized here are developed more f ully in Chapters 4 and S. 



206 



EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS 



207 



early to elements of the secret services, and it demonstrates their will- 
ingness to forge or pass along false evidence on the Connection itself. 

This forgery appeared as fact in the first book published on the Plot, 
by a Vatican priest; and a Vatican official subsequently acknowledged 
that the hypothesis of KGB-Bulgarian involvement in the shooting had 
been secretly disseminated by the Vatican very soon after the event. 
Furthermore, an official Catholic group in West Germany paid substan- 
tial sums to a Gray Wolves member and friend of Agca to visit Agca in 
prison and to persuade him to talk. 2 Testimony during the recent trial in 
Rome also indicated that the West German police offered money and le- 
niency to Oral Celik (through Yalcin Ozbey, held by the Germans in 
prison) if he would agree to come to West Germany and help confirm 
Agca's testimony. In short, the willingness to implicate the Bulgarians 
and Soviets by disseminating lies and seeking to induce false witness by 
western intelligence agencies and other political interests was displayed 
early and often. 

We also showed in Chapter 6 that the two primary U.S. sources on 
the Bulgarian Connection, Claire Sterling and Paul Henze, have demon- 
strated similar creative propensities in dealing with the subject. Paul 
Henze is a long-time CIA professional and specialist in propaganda, 
who has openly admitted impatience with demands for evidence when 
dealing with hypothetical enemy crimes. 3 Both Henze and Sterling use 
what has been called the "preferential method of research," which con- 
sists of picking out those pieces of fact or claims that are "preferred" 
for their argument and disregarding all others. Both have a strong pen- 
chant for relying on the claims of badly compromised intelligence 
sources and discredited defectors." Sterling's creativity — and lack of 
scientific self -discipline — in dealing with the Bulgarian Connection is 
shown in her response to Orsan Oymen's claim that Agca's lifelong and 
extensive relations with the Gray Wolves must have had a bearing on his 
actions. Her answer, that she "could not see how to reconcile that with 
Agca's summer in Bulgaria," is revealing. His stay in Bulgaria, a thru- 
way for Turkish migrants (and Gray Wolves), proves or suggests noth- 
ing. But to one who knows the truth beforehand and employs the prefer- 
ential method of research, it is a telling point. 

Based on Agca's visit to Bulgaria in the summer of 1980, both Ster- 

2. This plan was called off after i( was found thai Agca had already begun to talk. See 
Chapter S, n. 3. 

3. See Chapter 6, pp. 148-49. 

4. See Chapter 6 and Appendix C. 



208 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



ling and Henze saw an opportunity to create a Soviet Plot scenario. 5 
Both were well funded, and they were generously received by the mass 
media, despite their blemished credentials and demagogic arguments. 
We believe that the Sterling-Henze model and the western media's 
eager and uncritical acceptance of the Bulgarian Connection helped 
shape the case in Rome. Sterling and Henze provided the basic scenario 
adopted by both Agca and Martella, and the quick upsurge of popular 
belief and political vested interest in the Plot gave the case an almost un- 
stoppable momentum. Agca's guidance to a proper confession was en- 
couraged and made more effective by the pre-packaged scenarios and 
the already prepared groundwork of belief. 

A second body of evidence suggesting that Agca was manipulated 
and coached while in prison has been the accumulating data on P-2, 
SISMI, Pazienza, and the Ledeen Connection. It has long been known 
in Italy that the extreme Right — the "party of the coup" — has had an 
important place in the military establishment and secret services. But a 
spate of new evidence on these topics has surfaced in the past few years, 
much of it highly relevant to the Bulgarian Connection. 6 This evidence 
shows clearly the very important role that P-2 had assumed in the mili- 
tary and intelligence services, the frequency with which elements of the 
secret services have had cooperative relations with terrorists and the 
Mafia, and their willingness to forge and plant documents to achieve 
their political ends. There has also been considerable evidence of the in- 
volvement of individuals with important links to the Reagan administra- 
tion, notably Francesco Pazienza and Michael Ledeen, in the dubious 
practices of the secret services. 

A further set of evidence that has strengthened the case for coaching 
has been the growing number of plausible claims of "smoking guns." 7 
A Vatican official has named the prison chaplain Mariano Santini, who 
was in close and regular contact with Agca, as a Vatican agent attempt- 
ing to gel Agca to confess. (Santini was also close to the Mafia, and was 
subsequently jailed as a Mafia emissary.) In 1983, Mafia official 
Giuseppi Cilleri claimed that Francesco Pazienza had been visiting 
Agca in prison and had given him detailed instructions on proper tes- 
timony and identification of the Bulgarians. Agca's cell neighbor, 
Giovanni Senzani, a Red Brigades terrorist who had rallied to the gov- 

5. They may even have believed in the truth of their own creations, although this must 
remain uncertain. Nobody has yet invented a sincereiometer. 

6. See especially Chapter 4 above. 

7. See especially Chapter 5 above. 



EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS 



209 



emment, was in regular contact with Agca. He was familiar with the 
photo album of Bulgarians from which Agca selected his alleged co- 
conspirators (it had been used earlier in Senzani's own trial). Giovanni 
Pandico, a former Mafia official and principal witness in the trial of 
hundreds of Mafia personnel in Naples, provided details on just how 
Agca was induced to talk by Mafia chief Cutolo, former SISMI official 
Musumeci, and various others in the Ascoli Piceno prison. Francesco 
Pazienza has denied the allegations of his own involvement in persuad- 
ing Agca to "confess," claiming that he has been made the "fall guy" 
for the actual perpetrators of the induced confession — other members of 
SISMI whose names and role he spelled out. 8 

These various threads of evidence show that there was an intent to im- 
plicate the Bulgarians arising from several different sources, all of 
whom had access to Agca in prison, and that the interested parties in the 
Italian secret services and Vatican had no compunction about doctoring 
evidence. There are also now a number of explicit statements that de- 
scribe how and by whom Agca was prodded and coached. This aggre- 
gate of evidence, when combined with the lack of any support for 
Agca's frequently revised claims of Bulgarian involvement, leaves little 
doubt that the Bulgarian Connection was a product of encouragement 
and coaching. 

We believe that the actual plot to kill the Pope — in contrast with the 
plot to implicate the Bulgarians — arose from indigenous Turkish 
sources. No other scenario yet advanced has comparable plausibility, let 
alone such solid empirical support, as one based on Agca's link to the 
Gray Wolves." The Gray Wolves' hostility to the Pope has demonstrable 
ideological roots, although the actual shooting was very probably af- 
fected by Agca's own psychological peculiarities and "Carlos com- 
plex." 10 The Gray Wolves had links to some Bulgarians through the 
smuggling trade, but they also had links to the CIA and numerous other 
rightwing groups with whom they had more ideological compatibility. It 
is our belief that none of these foreign connections had any direct bear- 
ing on the assassination attempt. 

8. See Diana Johnstone, "Bulgarian Connection: Finger-pointing in the pontiff plot 
labyrinth," In These Times, January 29-February 4, 1986. 

9. For details, see Chapter 3 above. 

10. See Chapter 3, p. 56. 



210 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



The Flaws in the Case From Its Inception 



We have stressed throughout this book that the Bulgarian Connection 
was never at any time supported by credible evidence or logic, and sur- 
vived only by a tacit refusal of the western media to examine closely a 
convenient political line. Let us recapitulate briefly a few of these fun- 
damental flaws. 

• The alleged Soviet "motive" — fear of the Pope's aid to Solidar- 
ity — lacked plausibility from the beginning. Rational behavior would 
have led the Soviet leadership to calculate that the Poles and West 
would quickly attribute an assassination attempt to them even if it were 
well covered. There was also every reason to anticipate that the effect of 
an assassination attempt on the Poles would be adverse to Soviet inter- 
ests (i.e., it would elicit rage and increased hostility). The purported 
motive has also never been reconciled with the fact that Agca's threat to 
murder the Pope in 1979 and the "deal" he allegedly struck with the 
Bulgarians in Sofia in the summer of 1980 took place before Solidarity 
even existed. 

• A related "paradox" of Soviet involvement has also never been 
satisfactorily resolved. That is, while the alleged plot was intended to 
strengthen the Soviet's hand in dealing with Poland, as it worked out in 
the real world the plot caused the Soviet Union severe propaganda dam- 
age (even though the Pope was not killed and evidence of Soviet in- 
volvement has not yet been produced). On the other hand, the Reagan 
administration and western hard-liners have benefitted greatly from the 
plot. On the Sterling-Henze model, the Soviets must be incredibly 
stupid. On our model, in which the Bulgarian Connection was manufac- 
tured by Sterling-Henze and U.S. and Italian officials, the source of the 
plot and the resultant flow of benefits are comprehensible." 

• According to Sterling, Henze, Marvin Kalb, Albano, and Martella, 
the Soviet and Bulgarian secret police are highly efficient and try to 
maintain "plausible deniability." This is incompatible with hiring an 
unstable rightwing Turk, bringing him to Sofia for an extended stay, 
and especially with arranging to have him supervised in detail by Bulga- 
rian officials in Rome. Agca did visit Sofia, Bulgaria in 1980. In the 

I 1 . In our analysis, the assassination attempt was a fortuitous event from the standpoint 
of both East and West, but with the imaginative anticommunist Agca in an Italian prison, 
the West was able to take advantage of this event — through the actions of SISMI and 
Sterling and company — to construct a "second conspiracy." 



EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS 



211 



Sterling-Henze analyses, this is a key fact showing Bulgarian guilt. But 
if the KGB is smart and covers its tracks, concern over plausible denia- 
bility would have caused them to go to great pains to keep Agca away 
from Bulgaria. Thus, Agca's visit to Bulgaria provides the raw material 
for creating a Bulgarian Connection only because a propaganda system 
allows its principals to contradict themselves and one another virtually 
without challenge. The Keystone Kops arrangements outlined by Agca 
involving Bulgarian officials in Rome would have been laughed off the 
stage by NBC or the New York Times — if this propaganda show had 
been put on in Moscow. 

• As pointed out by Michael Dobbs, "Agca can be shown to have 
lied literally hundreds of times to judges both in his native Turkey and in 
Italy.'" 2 Orsan Oymen estimates some 115 changes in testimony by 
Agca recorded in the Martella Report. Agca withdrew significant parts 
of "confessions," which he admitted were based on outside assistance 
or produced out of thin air. As Agca was for all practical purposes the 
sole witness in the case, Martella's decision to proceed to a trial in the 
face of this self-destruction of credibility reflected a broken-down judi- 
cial process. 

• The Sterling-Henze-Martella school referred frequently to Agca's 
testimony as having been "independently confirmed." This assumed a 
properly managed investigation of Agca's claims. But Martella con- 
ceded a lack of control over or knowledge of Agca's visitors in prison, 
and we have seen that Agca's outside contacts were extensive. Further- 
more, Martella's presumption of the validity of Agca's primary allega- 
tions 13 injected an additional element of impropriety into the process of 
confirming Agca's claims. Given the high probability that Agca was fed 
information by individuals in SISMI and elsewhere in the Italian prison- 
intelligence-political- judicial network, "independent confirmation" has 
to be taken with a grain of salt. 

• Not a single witness was produced in more than three years of in- 
vestigations and trial to support any Agca claim of a contact with Bulga- 
rians, in Rome or anywhere else, although his supposed meetings and 
travels with them were frequent and in conspicuous places. The car al- 
legedly hired by the Bulgarians in Rome for the assassination attempt 
has never been traced. The large sum of money supposedly paid by the 
Bulgarians for the shooting has never been located or traced. 

12. "A Communist Plot to Kill the Pope — Or a Liar's Fantasy," Washington Post, 
November 18, 1984. 

13. See Chapter 5, pp. 1 14-17. 



212 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



• With one exception, every proven transaction by Agca, from his 
escape from a Turkish prison in 1979 to May 13, 1981, including all 
transfers of money or a gun, was with a member of the Gray Wolves. 14 

• The photographic evidence of May 13, 1981, one of the bases on 
which Martella arrested Antonov, collapsed long ago. Martella eventu- 
ally asserted that the photograph allegedly showing Antonov on the 
scene was actually that of a tourist, not Antonov, and the matter was 
dropped. But this tourist has never been located by independent re- 
searchers, and the photo of Antonov in St. Peter's Square is a remarka- 
bly exact likeness, requiring a phenomenal coincidence. An alternative 
hypothesis is that the photo of Antonov was faked. 15 In the Lowell New- 
ton photograph, the individual fleeing from the scene, originally iden- 
tified by Agca as the Bulgarian "Kolev," was later identified as Agca's 
Gray Wolves friend Oral Celik. 16 It is thus possible that Martella was 
lured into arresting Antonov by a combination of a fabricated Antonov 
likeness and one of Agca's lies, which together placed two Bulgarians in 
St. Peter's Square at the time of the shooting. Martella's gullibility quo- 
tient on claims of Bulgarian guilt was unflagging up to the submission 
of his final Report. 

• The formal photo identification of Bulgarians by Agca on 
November 8, 1982, put forward by Martella and the media as compel- 
ling evidence of Bulgarian involvement, was rendered meaningless by 
the statement of Minister of Defense Lagorio on the floor of the Italian 
Parliament that Agca had already identified the Bulgarian photos two 
months previously. The dramatic photo show was thus almost surely a 
staged rerun of a prior briefing and "identification." It should be recal- 
led that Agca took seven months after deciding to "come clean" before 
naming a single Bulgarian. 17 

14. The exception was that he apparently received a small sum of money from Mersan, 
who was acting as a courier for Ugurlu. Given Ugurlu's ties with the Gray Wolves, and 
perhaps even Turkish intelligence, this single exception to the Gray Wolves pattern will 
hardly bear the weight given it by Sterling-Henze, who claimed that it removes Agca's 
crime from a Gray Wolves context and points the finger of guilt at the Bulgarian-Turkish 
Mafia. We argued in Chapter 3 that these links took place within the larger framework of 
the activities of the Nationalist Action Party and the Gray Wolves. 

15. For a discussion of the ease with which Antonov's face could have been inserted 
into the crowd by a computerized photo-editing machine widely used in the publishing 
and advertising industries, see Howard Friel, "The Antonov Photo and the Bulgarian 
Connection," CovertAclion Information Bulletin, Number 21 (Spring 1984), pp. 20-21. 

1 6 . The trial in Rome raised doubts about this second identification, and the true iden- 
tity of the fleeing individual is uncertain 

17 See Chapter 5, pp. 110-11. for a further discussion of this photo identification 



EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS 213 



Conclusion: The Lessons and Future of the Bulgarian 
Connection 



The history of the Bulgarian Connection illustrates well the role of the 
mass media as a servant of power. The New Cold Warriors were look- 
ing hard for a basis on which to assail the Evil Empire in 1 98 1 , and the 
shooting of the Pope and the incarceration of Agca in an Italian prison 
offered them a marvelous propaganda opportunity. The mass media per- 
formance, from the time of Sterling's Reader's Digest article in August 
1982 up to the time of the trial, allowed that propaganda opportunity to 
be fully realized." As we have seen, in dealing with the Bulgarian Con- 
nection the major U.S. media violated norms of substantive objectivity" 
in several ways: 

(1) They used as primary sources individuals with badly tarnished 
credentials, and failed to provide adequate disclosure of their back- 
grounds and affiliations. 

(2) Although the Sterling-Henze analysis and Agca's claims were not 
supported by independent evidence, were logically faulty, and were 
ludicrous in their shifting James Bond scenarios and blatant ideological 
underpinning, 20 they were not subjecteo co critical scrutiny. Instead they 
were passed along as "news" even when they were displacing and con- 
tradicting earlier versions of the "news." 

(3) The media "played dumb" on a variety of important issues, such 
as Agca's prison conditions, the belatedness of his confession, the pos- 
sibilities of coaching, and the massive violations of "plausible deniabil- 
ity" in the Plot. 

(4) The media also played dumb on the Italian and Cold War context, 
and suppressed information on a whole string of Italian parliamentary 
and court reports on the abuses of the intelligence services. Attention to 
these issues and documents would have raised serious questions about 

18. As we point oul in Chapter 7. Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post and ABC-TV 
provided partial exceptions to this generalization, but they were relatively insignificant in 
the total coverage of the case. 

19. Nominal objectivity may be met by reporting verbatim a statement by Claire Ster- 
ling or George Shultz; substantive objectivity would require, among other things, an as- 
sessment of whether the quoted statement was true or false before it was transmitted as rel- 
evant "news." Bias is also displayed in the selection of only those authorities and state- 
ments that the joumalisl-editor-publisher likes to reward with publicity 

20 See Chapter 2, on "The Challenges to the Disinformalionists " 



214 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



the Italian judicial process and the validity of the Sterling-Henze line. 

In brief, by their gullibility and failure to ask obvious questions the 
mass media played a central role in allowing a propaganda theme full 
and uncontested reign. With their cooperation an implausible piece of 
disinformation was passed off on the public as a truth for more than 
three years. 21 

With the case for a Bulgarian Connection dismissed by an Italian 
court following a lengthy trial, can not be said truth and justice have 
been finally vindicated? The answer is no. We have shown in this book 
that the Bulgarian Connection is a myth. The court has acquitted for 
lack of evidence rather than for innocence, making the rectification only 
partial. The court also has left open an avenue through which the west- 
em disinformationists and media can continue to suggest that the Bul- 
garian Connection was valid but simply could not be proved because of 
"political constraints" on the pursuit of the case." The western media 
foisted the myth of the Connection on the public aggressively and un- 
critically over a three-year period. That myth can only be ousted from 
the popular mind by a campaign of substantial intensity and duration. 
But no such campaign will take place. In fact, our forecast is that the 
loss of the case will be reported briefly and the subject will then be 
dropped. There will be no extended analyses or retrospectives on how 
the media sold the public a bill of goods, nor will there be editorials on 
the corruption involved in uncritical reliance on disinformationists and a 
coached witness to serve the New Cold War. 

21 . Herbert Cans contends that "the rules of news judgment call for ignoring story im- 
plication." and that journalists follow such rules. The personal values of journalists "are 
left at home," he tells us. and "the beliefs that actually make it into the news are profes- 
sional values that are intrinsic to national journalism and thai journalists learn on (he job." 
"Are Journalists Dangerously Liberal?," Columbia Journalism Review, November-De- 
cember 1985, pp. 32-33. We would submit that Gans's assertions are completely incom- 
patible with the history of news coverage of (he Bulgarian Connection. 

22. As we noted in the Preface, the disinformationists stress "political" factors any- 
time they lose. The dominant political forces at work in Italy, however, are strongly pro- 
western (as described in Chapter 4), and western preconceptions and power played an im- 
portant part in bringing the Bulgarian Connection into existence in the first place We be- 
lieve that the failure of the irial to exonerate fully the Bulgarians reflects similar political 
bias. In addition to normal western suspicion of the communist powers, we believe that 
there was an unwillingness to repudiate completely the Italian judges and prosecutors and 
other western interests with a large stake in the Connection. Dismissal for lack of evidence 
frees the victims, while affording some measure of solace and protection to the establish- 
ment interests that originated and pushed the case. 



EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS 



215 



Instead of Sterling, Henze, and Ledeen being discredited by the trial 
and dismissal of the case, we believe that they will be given the floor 
once again to explain it away. With their rationalizations, and with few 
critical retrospectives, not only will the disinformationists and the mass 
media come out of this affair smelling like roses, the Bulgarian Connec- 
tion itself will be salvaged. It will perhaps be quietly placed on the back 
burner for a while, but the myth has entered popular consciousness by 
intense and indignant repetition, and it will take on renewed life after 
memories of the upsetting trial are dimmed. 

Looking at the international dimension, the West and the western 
mass media were guilty of a huge fraud, with Bulgaria and the Soviet 
Union subjected to an intense and effective multi-year propaganda cam- 
paign based on false evidence. With the dismissal of the case, will the 
West now suffer a severe propaganda blow and will the Soviets and Bul- 
garians recoup some of their losses? We believe that this will not hap- 
pen: U.S. and western power and media domination are so great that lies 
can be institutionalized as myths and can remain effective even after ex- 
posure." If you are strong enough, just as you are never a "terrorist" 
but only "retaliate" to the terror of others, so there is no such thing as a 
losing propaganda campaign. In the words of Alexander Pope: "Des- 
troy his sophistry: in vain — The creature's at his dirty work again." 



23 The history of the Soviet shooting down of the Korean airliner 007 in 1 983 provided 
an object lesson and answer. The day after the event, the United States organized a huge 
propaganda campaign based on the claim that the Soviets had knowingly murdered 259 ci- 
vilians Five weeks later, the CIA acknowledged that the Soviets had not realized that the 
plane was a civilian carrier, ("U.S. Experts Say Soviet Didn't See Jet Was Civilian," 
New York Times, October 7, 1983.) As that information was surely available to U.S offi- 
cials within hours of the downing, it is clear that the United Stales suppressed crucial in- 
formation to allow it to conduct a propaganda barrage Following the revelation that the 
Soviet Union had not recognized that it was shooting down a civilian plane, there were no 
discernible criticisms of the United States for its propaganda assault based on disinforma- 
tion, and Soviet villainy in the case has been institutionalized. See Edward S. Herman. 
"Gatekeeper Versus Propaganda Models: A Case Study," in Peter Golding, Graham 
Murdock, and Philip Schlesinger, eds , Communicating Politics: Essays in Memory of 
Philip Elliott (Leicester: University of Leicester Press, 1986) 



Appendices 



A. Did the Western Media 
Suppress Evidence of a 
Conspiracy? 



Claire Sterling maintains in The Time of the Assassins that western 
governments and the western media quickly backed away from the 
initial statements of Italian government officials that the assassination 
attempt on Pope John Paul II was the result of a conspiracy In the open- 
ing lines of her book. Sterling says that "for but a fleeting instant, the 
truth was close enough to touch . . , and then it was gone.'" While 
space does not allow us to discuss each instance of the misuse of evi- 
dence which characterizes Ms. Sterling's book from beginning to end, 
as the alleged media coverup of a conspiracy is her opening theme, an 
analysis of that claim provides a valuable case study of the quality of her 
work. 

As we noted in Chapter 2, the conspiracy initially perceived by the 
western media was a Turkish one. Rather than quickly backing off from 
any investigation into a Soviet-backed conspiracy, as Sterling main- 
tains, the western media vigorously pursued the abundant evidence that 
Agca had been aided and sheltered by his colleagues in the Gray 
Wolves. While the western media can rightly be accused of many 
things, to say that it did not immediately provide its readers with details 
about a possible conspiracy in the attempt on the Pope's life is absurd, 
though tactically of great value to Sterling in her efforts to portray her- 
self as a misunderstood seeker after the real truth, the Bulgarian Con- 
nection. 

To demonstrate this point, we will summarize the coverage which the 
unfolding investigation received in the New York Times and the 
Washington Post for the period from May 14 — the day after the assassi- 
nation attempt — to May 25. By this latter date Agca had ceased to pro- 

1 . Claire Sterling, The Time of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 
1983), p 5. 



216 



APPENDIX A 



217 



vide his captors with any fresh leads; and on May 25 the New York 
Times provided its readers with a long, summary article which brought 
the various threads of the investigation together. Our recounting of this 
coverage by two of the leading U.S. newspapers will serve two pur- 
poses. First, it provides us with what might be called a preliminary 
paradigm, a well-textured first draft of what we call the First Conspir- 
acy. (We elaborate on the background of the First Conspiracy in Chap- 
ter 3.) Second, from this summary it will be evident that, contrary to 
Sterling, the most casual reader of these newspapers in the first weeks 
after the papal assassination attempt would have been overwhelmed by 
information about Agca's background in Turkey, and by speculation 
about the involvement of the Gray Wolves in his attempt on the Pope. 

• May 14, 1981: In its initial report on the assassination attempt, the 
New York Times noted Agca's background in Turkey and his earlier 
threat to kill the Pope. The front-page article connected Agca with the 
Nationalist Action Party. The Washington Post, in a long article by its 
Turkish correspondent Metin Munir, probed Agca's Turkish back- 
ground, focusing on his association with the Gray Wolves and his re- 
sponsibility for the murder of the Turkish newspaper editor Ipekci. 2 

• May 15, 1981: The lead article in the New York Times, by R. W. 
Apple, Jr., was headlined "Police Trace the Path of the Suspect from 
Turkey to St. Peter's Square." Once again the Times noted Agca's con- 
nections to the Nationalist Action Party and the failure of the interna- 
tional police to arrest Agca when Turkey had requested it. 1 A second ar- 
ticle on the 15th of May, contained the words quoted by Sterling as 
suggesting that the Italian authorities had abandoned the search for any 
conspiracy: "Police are convinced, according to government sources, 
that Mr. Agca acted alone." This article, without a by-line, focused on 
the Pope's medical condition and was printed on the inside pages. Even 

2. The London Times focused its article on the Pope's attacker on the Ipekci assassina- 
tion and his subsequent letter threatening to kill the Pope in 1979 It described Agca as 
"without doubt the most wanted Turkish terrorist.'' and quoted Turkish authorities com- 
plaining that West European governments had repeatedly ignored the Turkish govern- 
ment's warnings that Agca was in their country and its requests that Agca be arrested. 

3. Interestingly, R. W. Apple, Jr. quoted from a letter purportedly found on Agca's 
person after his arrest — in which he claimed that "I, Agca, have killed the Pope so that 
the world may know of the thousands of victims of imperialism" — and then went on to 
describe this as "language that seemed to support his assertion that he was not part of an 
international plot." The full text of the letter protests against U.S. intervention in El Sal- 
vador and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. These sentiments are perfectly compatible 
with the ideology of the Gray Wolves, as we discuss in Chapter 3. 



218 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



this peripheral aside, however, was followed with the observation that 
' 'police do not exclude the possibility that Mr. Agca was backed by an 
organization and had the help of friends in some of the countries that he 
had visited since escaping from a Turkish prison in November 1979." 4 

The Washington Post of May 15 included an article by Metin Munir 
headed "Turk Describes Suspected Gunman as Determined, Highly 
Trained.' " The Turk in question was Hasan Fehmi Gunes, a former 
Minister of the Interior in Turkey at the time when Agca was arrested 
for killing Ipekci. According to Gunes, "We know he [Agca] was ex- 
treme Right because we know that the people who gave him money and 
arms and helped him in his crime were extreme rightwing." To this arti- 
cle were appended reports from Turkey and West Germany that elabo- 
rated on Turkish efforts to apprehend Agca and the apparent lack of 
cooperation they received from West Germany and other countries. The 
report quoted a Frankfurt journalist who specialized in the activities of 
rightwing Turks in West Germany. He recounted the attempt of a 60- 
man squad of Turkish police to track Agca down there, "but it was 
given little support by German police and did not find him." 

• May 16, 1981: The Times' % article noted the conviction of the Ital- 
ian press — both leftwing and rightwing — that the Pope was the victim of 
an international plot. It also quoted the issue of La Stampa cited by 
Sterling in which magistrate Luciano Infelisi said, "As far as we're con- 
cerned, documents prove that Agca did not act alone. He is a killer en- 
listed by an international group with subversive aims." The Times' 's ar- 
ticle went on to detail the Turkish background of Agca's false passport, 
noting that this fact "was just one suggesting links with Turkish politi- 
cal groups." A second front-page article, by the Times' s Turkey corre- 
spondent Marvine Howe, was headed ' 'Turks in Disagreement on Mo- 
tive of Alleged Assailant." The debate described in the article pitted 
some Turks who claimed that Agca was simply a psychopath and had 
acted alone against Gunes and others who pointed to Agca's extensive 
ties to the Gray Wolves, and who argued that the assassination attempt 
was almost certainly based in such a conspiracy. An article on the inside 
pages of the Times by John Tagliabue gave many details of apparent 
sightings of Agca in West Germany, and of Agca's alleged ties to the 
many branches of the Gray Wolves in West Germany. 

The Washington Post for May 16 headed its main front-page story 
"Wider Plot Is Probed in Papal Attack." In it Sari Gilbert reported from 

4. Given (his language, it is entirely possible that the words "acted alone" related sim- 
ply to the events in St. Peter's Square, and may well be true. 



APPENDIX A 



219 



Rome on Infelisi's contention that, because of Agca's well-financed and 
extensive travels, "we have ruled out the theory that this was a gesture 
of an isolated madman' 1 ; but Infelisi also said "he still was 'not con- 
vinced' that there was an international conspiracy." Gilbert noted that 
Agca claimed he had received his assassination weapon in Bulgaria, but 
quickly pointed out that Italian police had been able to trace the murder 
weapon from the Belgian factory where it was made, following its path 
first to Switzerland and then to Italy. An inside-page article by the 
Post's Turkey correspondent included an interview with Agca's brother 
Adnan, who said that his brother "hoped to win world fame and a place 
at the head of the Moslem world. " "If they torture or spiritually oppress 
my brother," Adnan said, "the whole Islamic world will flock to his 
side. The crusaders are against the entire Islamic world." The Post's 
correspondent again noted Turkey's irritation that other countries were 
so unwilling to cooperate with the martial law government in its attempt 
to have the many convicted terrorists who had escaped its borders re- 
turned to Turkey. The Post also noted that several Gray Wolves had 
been arrested in connection with Agca's passport fraud, a story given a 
headline and much bigger play in that same day's London Times. 

• May 17, 1981: On this date, Sunday, the front-page article in the 
New York Times was headlined, "Police Lack Clues to Foreign Links of 
Suspect in Shooting of the Pope." The burden of the article, however, 
was the near-universal acceptance of the idea that some kind of conspir- 
acy lay behind Agca's attempt on the Pope, contrasted with the disap- 
pointing results of efforts by the police to f ind clues. "The assertion that 
Mr. Agca was unquestionably the agent of an international conspir- 
acy," claimed the Times, "has spread around the world in the last 48 
hours, and official statements of caution seem powerless to counter the 
impression that terrorists in Europe and the Middle East plotted to assas- 
sinate the Pope." The article went on to trace the debate in the Italian 
press over the nature and extent of the conspiracy, and cited La 
Stampa's story that Italian investigators believed "Mr. Agca may have 
been financed and supported by friends belonging to rightwing groups 
in the large Turkish communities in Western Europe, particularly in 
West Germany, rather than by a network of international terrorist or- 
ganizations." 

The debate within Italy was clearly not whether Agca was part of a 
conspiracy, but what kind of conspiracy stood behind the assassination 
attempt. What some Italian officials seemed to be backing away from 
was the idea that Agca was linked to a network of international ter- 



220 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



rorists, a la Carlos the Jackal. The view that Agca's conspiracy was 
most likely a Turkish one received support from an article by Marvine 
Howe on an inside page of the Times headlined ' 'Turk Is Called a Prod- 
uct of Violence in His Nation." Sari Gilbert, in the Washington Post, 
noted that the police now believed that the man seen running away from 
the scene of the crime might be Agca's long-time Turkish comrade, 
Mehmet Sener. (The London Sunday Times pursued the same theme in a 
long article, "The Wolf Who Stalked A Pope," which traced Agca's 
terrorist record in Turkey.) 

• May 18, 1981: On this, the fifth day after the assassination attempt, 
the New York Times had a front-page article by Marvine Howe which 
was headed, "Turks Say Suspect in Papal Attack is Tied to Rightist 
Web of Intrigue . ' ' This was the longest exposition to date of Agca's ties 
to Turkey's neofascist Right. Howe drew on the recently released in- 
dictment of the Nationalist Action Party, the parent organization of the 
Gray Wolves, to provide readers with some background analysis. The 
article focused on the Western European branches of the Gray Wolves, 
or "Idealists," which led Howe to state that "it is not difficult to imag- 
ine how he [Agca] could have traveled widely in Europe and evaded the 
authorities." She also noted that the martial law prosecutors of the 
Nationalist Action Party had found links between the party and the West 
German secret service. The Washington Post noted that "Italian magis- 
trates are so convinced that the Turkish terrorist is connected to a right- 
wing organization that yesterday they assigned five Roman judges who 
are specialists in Italian right-wing subversive groups to the team carry- 
ing out his interrogation." 

Also on this day both the Times and the Post discussed the way that 
Agca was standing up to interrogation. The Times's article noted Agca's 
"refusal to answer key questions," while the Post said that Italian 
police were describing Agca as "tough and cool, a professional terrorist 
who has not yet shown any sign of breaking down under the pressure of 
interrogation." Both the press and the police were realizing that Agca 
had provided investigating authorities with an abundance of information 
about himself, but that only some of it was true and none of it concerned 
his Gray Wolves associations or any assistance he was given between 
his escape from a Turkish prison and his assassination attempt. Sari Gil- 
bert of the Post noted that "Agca has given the police a six-page deposi- 
tion in which he is reported to have admitted initial close ties to a right- 
wing movement in Turkey, but to have added that he subsequently con- 
verted to Marxism at a Palestinian base in Syria. ' ' This is apparently the 



APPENDIX A 



221 



same report around which Claire Sterling framed her Reader's Digest 
article some 15 months later; but "Italian investigators," noted Gilbert, 
"seem to feel there was never any such conversion. 'He is trying to 
further muddy already murky waters,' one of them was quoted by news 
agencies as saying here today." 

• May 19, 1981: The Washington Post's main headline on the front 
page announced that the "Italian Police Seek 2nd Suspect." They (ap- 
parently erroneously) identified this second suspect as Mehmet Sener, 
evidently on the basis of the Lowell Newton photograph, which had 
been provided to the Italian police. The police were also reportedly 
looking for "Oral Gelik" [sic], described as "another Turkish right- 
wing extremist." The declaration that the Italian police were looking for 
a second suspect "seemed to lend weight to the growing conviction in 
some circles that there was a conspiracy against the Pope's life and that 
a terrorist organization was behind it." But the Post's reporter also 
noted that the head of DIGOS, the special antiterrorist police, "took a 
more cautious approach," and that according to this source Agca "may 
have been a hired killer, or he may not have been. As for an interna- 
tional conspiracy, it's a very remote possibility." In an article on the in- 
side pages — "Probe of Turkish Right Links Pope Suspect" — the Post 
followed the Times's lead of the previous day in using material from the 
indictment of the NAP to trace Agca's ties to Turkey's neofascist Right. 
For its part the Times reported from Bonn that ' 'Germany Finds No Evi- 
dence Accused Turk Lived Here." The Times's reporter, John Tag- 
liabue, also drew on the NAP indictment to ask questions of West Ger- 
man officials about Agca's links to any of the NAP's European branch- 
es; but they said there was no evidence that Agca had ever been in West 
Germany. 

• May 20, 1 98 1 : The focus of the western media turned to some re- 
marks Agca apparently made during his interrogation on May 18, in 
which he claimed that he had considered killing other world leaders, in- 
cluding the Queen of England and the Secretary General of the United 
Nations. "I went to London to kill the King," the police quoted Agca as 
saying, "but I found he was a woman and decided against it because 1 
am Turkish and a Moslem and I don't kill women." For the same 
reason, he added, "I did not kill Simone Weil, the President of the 
European Parliament, after I had been to Brussels to study how the 
Community works." The Washington Post report claimed that Agca's 
statement "lefthis interrogators highly skeptical about its veracity"; but 
R. W. Apple, Jr. of the New York Times apparently considered this 



222 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



statement food for thought, saying that it "lent credence to the thesis that 
Mr. Agca's views are essentially anarchistic, growing out of a hatred of 
authority, rather than conventionally leftwing or rightwing." The Lon- 
don Times, meanwhile, quoted British authorities who denied that Agca 
had ever set foot in Britain. 

• May 21, 198 1 : The Times's correspondent John Tagliabue reported 
from Bonn on "Militant Views Among Turks Trouble Bonn." The re- 
port surveyed the West German government's fears about the large Tur- 
kish "guest worker" population, and focused on the activities of right- 
wing organizations there. 

The Washington Post story on this day was headed, "Interrogation of 
Agca Turns Up Several Baffling Mysteries." This article summarized 
what was known and not known about Agca and his travels before 
shooting the Pope, and stressed the general bafflement of the police of 
several Western European countries in the Agca case. Apparently for 
the first time a possible Bulgarian Connection was proposed. The Post 
quoted a "high-ranking Italian official" who noted that Agca had 
passed through Bulgaria after escaping from Turkey. According to this 
hypothesis, continued the Post story, "the Bulgarians might be upset 
enough by the alternative to communism evolving in Poland and the 
strong backing of the Catholic Church, as well as of the Polish Pope, to 
the Solidarity independent union movement to encourage Agca in his 
endeavor. . . . " The Post story did not give this hypothesis much cre- 
dence, however, quickly quoting a "western diplomatic source" who 
called this theory "off the wall." 

• May 22, 1981: The Times's report for this day was quite short and 
was printed on the inside pages. It described Agca's transfer from police 
headquarters to Rebibbia prison, just outside of Rome. The story's 
headline reflected Agca's shouted remark to reporters that he was 
"sorry for the two foreign tourists [who had been wounded] but not for 
the Pope." The story also noted that Agca had been interrogated by 
police for more than 75 hours over the past 9 days. 

A much longer story in the Washington Post, datelined Malatya, Tur- 
key, was headed, "Accused Turk Looked for Exit From Poverty." It 
traced Agca's life from its beginnings in extreme poverty through his as- 
sassination of Abdi Ipekci in 1979. The article noted that Malatya had 
been a center of the opium trade, and that the region had suffered se- 
verely, when the trade was suppressed in the early 1970s. The article 
also noted the profound effect on the Malatya region of the formation of 
the coalition government in 1976, which was headed by the conserva- 



APPENDIX A 



223 



tive Justice Party and included the Nationalist Action Party, and quoted 
local sources as saying that Agca had been frequently seen in the com- 
pany of the Gray Wolves. Finally, the article described the wave of 
rightwing terrorism which resulted in more than 700 shops owned by 
leftists being bumed or looted in 1978, following the murder of the local 
Justice Party chief. This outbreak resulted in the proclamation of martial 
law for the Malatya region, the first Turkish province to be put under 
control of the Army. 

• May 23, 1981: The Times' s story, by Marvine Howe, followed the 
lead of the Post's story of the day before "Turk's Hometown Puzzled 
by His Climb to Notoriety." The article included interviews with 
Agca's brother and mother (as had the Post's story the previous day); 
but despite his mother's disclaimer that Agca was ' 'good and honest and 
brilliant, just an ordinary boy," Howe quoted "political sources that in- 
sisted that Mehmet Ali Agca was associated with extreme rightwing or- 
ganizations known as Idealist Clubs" [the Gray Wolves]. The article 
also noted that Agca's high school had been taken over in 1975 by the 
Nationalist Action Party, "naming one of their prominent members as 
director and filling the staff with militants. Seminars were held on fas- 
cism and Nationalist Action Party principles, which were basically anti- 
foreign, anti-West, and militantly nationalistic." 

The Washington Post for this day contained only a short report on the 
Pope's continuing recovery. 

• May 24, 1981: Once again, the Post's comments were restricted to 
a medical note that the Pope was now out of danger The Times focused 
on Agca's European travels, again highlighting claims by Turkey that 
European governments had failed to cooperate with their earlier requests 
for Agca's arrest and extradition. In the "Review of the Week" section, 
the Times noted that "Questions Continue," particularly those connect- 
ing Agca to the Nationalist Action Party and the "Idealist Associa- 
tions" of Western Europe. 

• May 25, 1981: By this date the broad outlines of the preliminary 
paradigm of the case had been established, and both newspapers pre- 
pared summary articles. The Post headlined their contribution, "Tur- 
key, Searching for Modernity, Offers Fertile Field for Terrorism." It 
portrayed Agca as a product of the rapid social and economic changes 
which were drawing Turkey into the modem world economy, while 
leaving backwaters like Agca's hometown of Malatya to suffer in pov- 
erty. For its part, the Times wrapped up its coverage of this phase of the 
case with a very long article by R. W. Apple, Jr. , which began on the 



224 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



front page ("Trail of Mehmel Ali Agca: 6 Years of Neofascist Ties") 
and filled up an entire inside page as well. Apple rooted Agca solidly in 
Turkey's neofascist Right, and traced his involvement with the Gray 
Wolves and rightwing terrorism from his high school days, through his 
brief university career, and then on to greater things. Apple found 
Agca's motivation puzzling, still stumbling over Agca's claim that he 
thought of killing most of the crowned heads of Europe; but he also 
quoted Turkish sources who believed that Agca was mentally unbal- 
anced and aspired after greatness or notoriety. Finally, the article gave a 
detailed account of Agca's wanderings through Western Europe, shel- 
tered by the Gray Wolves and completely unhampered by the conti- 
nent's police forces. 



Summary 



It should by now be abundantly clear that it is impossible to subscribe to 
Claire Sterling's assertion that, for but a fleeting moment, the possibil- 
ity of a conspiracy was a "truth close enough to touch," and that this 
truth was suppressed by western governments and the western media in 
the interests of preserving detente. On the contrary, the western media 
vigorously pursued the clues that there was a Turkish-based, rightwing 
conspiracy which connected Agca through a multitude of threads to the 
Nationalist Action Party and the Gray Wolves. The distortion perpe- 
trated by Sterling at the opening of her book is characteristic of her han- 
dling of all evidence, perhaps because of her confidence that the major 
media outlets of the West are content to rely on her testimony, without 
even examining the files of their own newspapers. 



b. Bulgaria and 
the Drag Connection 



Taking advantage of Bulgaria's sudden prominence in Ihe western 
media to strike another blow at the Evil Empire, the disinformationists 
have used the Bulgarian Connection episode to raise sweeping charges 
that Bulgaria, acting of course as a Soviet instrument, is engaged in a 
campaign to destabilize the West by flooding it with narcotics. This 
campaign has been quite successful, resulting in diplomatic setbacks for 
Bulgaria and adding to the established truth that the Soviet Bloc is be- 
hind international terrorism, now expanded to include "narco-ter- 
rorism." 

In this appendix we address two specific claims advanced by the dis- 
informationists. These are, first, that the Bulgarian state agency KIN- 
TEX organizes much of the international narcotics flow; and second, 
that Bulgaria violates the international conventions establishing the 
Transport Intemationaux Routiers (TIR) truck system, even using a TIR 
truck to facilitate the escape of Agca's fellow assassin, Oral Celik. To 
assess these claims we will look at the evidence put forward at two U.S. 
congressional hearings that were held in the summer of 1984 on the Bul- 
garian role in arms and narcotics smuggling. Paul Henze participated in 
both of these hearings, being joined by representatives of the State De- 
partment, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Cus- 
toms Service, and by supposed experts on Bulgarian drug smuggling. 
These hearings, which allowed only marginally dissenting notes from 
the main theme of Bulgarian guilt, afforded the proponents of the Bul- 
garian Connection ample scope to present whatever evidence they had. 



225 



226 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Background to the Hearings 



Charges that Agca was linked to Bulgaria through his participation in 
Bulgarian-supported drug smuggling had been an integral part of the 
pre-confession allegations of the Bulgarian Connection. The Ugurlu- 
Mersan-Agca link had been at the heart of both Claire Sterling's Read- 
er's Digest article and the NBC "White Paper" broadcast in September 
1982. The link between Agca's attempt on the Pope and Bulgarian sup- 
port for smuggling was apparently made tighter in early December 
1982, when an investigation into arms and drug smuggling in the Italian 
city of Trent indicted Bekir Celenk, who had already been named by 
Agca as the person who offered him over one million dollars to kill the 
Pope. The charge that the Bulgarian state import-export agency KIN- 
TEX was involved with smuggling was included in Italian Defense 
Minister Lagorio's speech to the Chamber of Deputies on December 20. 
And the arrest of Celenk on smuggling charges was featured by both 
Time and Newsweek in their January 3, 1983 issues which put the papal 
assassination attempt on the covers of both magazines. 1 The Christian 
Science Monitor devoted an article to Turkish investigations into Bulga- 
rian smuggling and Bulgarian links to the Turkish "Mafia" on January 
20. Four days later New York Times correspondent Henry Kamm re- 
ported from Sofia on a press conference held there by Bekir Celenk; and 
on January 28 the Times printed another piece by Kamm, "Plot On 
Pope Aside, Bulgaria's Notoriety Rests On Smuggling." 

Probably the most influential of all the media reports on Bulgarian 
smuggling was "Drugs for Guns: The Bulgarian Connection," by 
Nathan M. Adams, which appeared in the November 1983 issue of the 
Reader's Digest. Adams, a Reader's Digest Senior Editor, claimed that 
"over 50 percent of the heroin consumed in Europe and much of that in 
the United States flows across Bulgaria's borders with the full knowl- 
edge and direct participation of high-ranking [Bulgarian] government 
officials." He further claimed that the drugs were "paid for with War- 

1 . In November 1 984 the prosecutor in the Trent case issued 37 indictments — of 25 Ital- 
ians. 9 Turks. 2 Syrians, and an Egyptian — on charges of smuggling drugs and arms, and 
possibly even an atomic bomb. One of the accused was Bekir Celenk. Another was the 
Italian film star Rossano Brazzi. See E J. Dionne, Jr. , "Italian Case Uncovers an Alpine 
Heart of Darkness," New York Times, November 24. 1984. 



APPENDIX B 



227 



saw-pact weaponry," thus fueling Middle Eastern terrorism. Adams 
charged that this action by Bulgaria was the product of a 1970 Bulgarian 
Committee for State Security (KDS, later DS) directive to destabilize 
the West through the narcotics trade. Adams's article, which he later 
claimed was based on six months' research in eight nations, became the 
primary source for the congressional investigation into the Bulgarian 
role in narcotics trafficking; and although it was deeply flawed, it has 
gone unchallenged in the West. 2 

Charges that KINTEX was promoting drug dealing were renewed in 
April 1984, when a Danish television report was picked up by CBS 
News. In its report for April 26, 1984, CBS quoted from a signed letter 
from one Peter H. Mulack, a West German national residing in Miami 
since 1979. Mulack was allegedly involved in trading in embargoed 
high-technology goods with Eastern Europe, and in shipping East Euro- 
pean weapons to African nations, primarily South Africa. According to 
documents presented by CBS, Mulack told KINTEX that "... I can 
deliver the required, electronic material. However, as the material is 
under embargo, it will take at least three months to deliver. Payment for 
the consignment may be made in heroin or morphine base. ..." CBS 
showed a return letter from KINTEX thanking Mulack for committing 
himself to "deliver the requested goods and you are willing to accept 
payment as mentioned."' This certainly seemed like hard evidence, and 
to this day the viewers of the CBS report have not been told a most sa- 
lient fact: that the documents they were shown were forgeries, as was 
revealed in the fine print of a U.S. congressional report." 

2 . Adams was making a career o f such allegations. The July 1982 Reader's Digest ran a 
five-page article in which he claimed that vast quantities of drugs were coming to the U.S. 
from Cuba and Nicaragua. See William Preston, Jr. and Ellen Ray, "Disinformation and 
Mass Deception: Democracy as a Cover Story," CoverlAdion Information Bulletin, 
Number 1 9 (Spring-Summer 1983), pp. 9-11. 

3 . Cited from Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Al- 
coholism and Drug Abuse of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Senate, 
98th Congress, 2nd Session. August 8, 1984, p. 76. 

4. According to the DEA, the correspondence between the Bulgarians and the West 
German dealer shown on Danish television (and also on CBS-TV) was "probably not 
genuine," and the DEA "has no corroborating evidence." "Written documentation of il- 
licit activities," cautioned the DEA, "is not typical of the modus operandi of KINTEX" 
(Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection: United Stales-Bulgarian Relations and Inter- 
national Drug Trafficking, Hearings and Markup before the Committee on Foreign Af- 
fairs, House of Representatives, 98th Congress, 2nd Session, 1984, pp. 1 13-14). To our 
knowledge there has been no follow-up on the question of who forged the documents fed 
to Danish TV, nor an investigation of whether CBS-TV was the victim of a deliberate dis- 
information ploy. 



228 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Accusations that Bulgaria was supporting smuggling, whether for 
gain or as a means of destabilizing the West, were clearly important in 
straining Bulgaria's ties with Italy, which withdrew its ambassador from 
Bulgaria on December 1 1 , 1982; shortly thereafter travel by Bulgarians 
to Italy was restricted. ' The United States also acted quickly. In January 
1983 the U.S. Embassy in Sofia presented a protest to Bulgaria, citing 
what they claimed were the activities of known drug and arms 
smugglers in Bulgaria and demanding that something be done. When 
Bulgaria's response the following month was judged unsatisfactory, 
further protests followed. A decade of cooperation between the two 
countries in countering narcotics smuggling was broken off (see below). 
Though the State Department successfully lobbied against a bill by Jesse 
Helms that would have banned U.S. trade with Bulgaria, in July 1 984 it 
banned "nonessential" government travel to Bulgaria. 6 



The Hearings 



By the summer of 1 984, charges that Bulgaria supported narcotics and 
arms smuggling had gained a firm foothold in the western media. This 
provided congressional conservatives with a means of pressuring the 
State Department on the Bulgarian Connection. A House Foreign Af- 
fairs Committee "Task Force on International Narcotics Control" held 
hearings on the "Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection: United 
States-Bulgarian Relations and International Drug Trafficking," in June 
and July of 1984. One of the goals of the committee members was to 
urge that the Reagan administration take further diplomatic sanctions 
against Bulgaria. 7 A second hearing, on "Drugs and Terrorism, 1984," 
was held by Florida Senator Paula Hawkins in August. The purport of 
her hearing was to dramatize the global role of Soviet proxies in narco- 
tics smuggling. Both committees heard representatives of the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs Service, as well as Paul 
Henze and Nathan Adams. 

5. Loren Jenkins, "Italy Calls Pope Plot 'Act of War,' " Washington Post, December 
21, 1982. 

6. Clyde Famsworth. "U.S. Restricts Government Travel to Bulgaria," New York 
Times, July 10, 1984. 

7. See Rick Atkinson, "U.S. Links Bulgaria, Drug Traffic," Washington Post, July 
25, 1984. 



APPENDIX B 



229 



At the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the alleged 
"Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection" it quickly became apparent 
that there was little quarrel among the witnesses about the extent of Bul- 
garian nefariousness. Only Jack Perry, a former U.S. Ambassador to 
Bulgaria, questioned whether Bulgaria supported narcotics smuggling 
and illegal arms trafficking as a matter of state policy, noting that he had 
heard nothing about this before being removed by the Reagan adminis- 
tration in 198 1 . But the issue of smuggling immediately became entan- 
gled with the alleged Bulgarian role in the attempt on the Pope, a charge 
pressed not only by Henze but by Senator Altonse D'Amato of New 
York. This forced the State Department into an awkward position, for 
the measures which the Foreign Affairs Committee proposed would be 
tantamount to taking a position on the Bulgarian Connection case in 
Rome. This was obviously what Henze and D'Amato wanted; but the 
State Department's appeal to postpone any sanctions pending the out- 
come of the imminent trial in Italy was finally acceded to by the Com- 
mittee. 8 

Somewhat lost in this discussion was the weakness of the case for 
Bulgarian support of smuggling and arms trafficking. For example, the 
central piece of documentary evidence used by several witnesses to sup- 
port these charges was Adams's Reader's Digest article, "Drugs for 
Guns: the Bulgarian Connection." As noted above, Adams's most sen- 
sational charge was that between 1967 and 1970 plans were formulated 
by the Soviet Union and Bulgaria to destabilize the West by, among 
other things, narcotics. The source for this charge was Stefan Sverdlev, 
a defector from the Bulgarian KDS who fled to Greece in 1971. He 
claimed that Bulgaria's role in narcotics trafficking was part of a larger 
Warsaw Pact project initiated in 1967 to destabilize the West. 
(Sverdlev's dubious evidence is analyzed in Appendix C.) Adams 
charged that between 1970 and 1980 "billions upon billions of dollars' 
worth of narcotics and arms were moved or exchanged through Bulgaria 
by the state trading agency KINTEX, whose clandestine activities 
were — and are — under the direct control of the First Directorate of the 
DS. . . ."' 

8. On September 12.1 984 , W. Tapley Bennett, Jr. wrote to the Committee on behalf of 
the State Department: "Any legislation declaring or implying a U.S. belief in Bulgarian 
wrongdoing should await the outcome of the Italian judicial proceedings concerning the 
attempted assassination of the Pope. . Senior Italian officials have urged us to maintain 
this position of strict non-intervention." Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection, op 
cit.. n. 4, pp. 90-91. 

9. Ibid., p. 74. 



230 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



It was on the basis of Adams's article that members of the Foreign 
Affairs Committee casually bandied about their estimates of the extent 
of Bulgarian state smuggling. Adams charged that in the late 1970s 
"approximately 25 percent of heroin reaching the United States either 
moved through Bulgaria or was in some way abetted by KINTEX." 10 
This preposterous statement was reduced in the Committee's bargaining 
with the representative of the DEA to a more modest 10 percent. Yet in 
response to written questions at the conclusion of the Committee's hear- 
ings, the DEA admitted, that they had "no substantive evidence to sup- 
port these allegations,"" and that "there is not enough evidence to in- 
dict any Bulgarian official at this time." 12 

The Customs Service's testimony also helped to demystify the TIR 
trucking system, whose alleged abuse by the Bulgarians had become 
such a central issue in the Bulgarian Connection case. The Customs Ser- 
vice pointed out that (a) the TIR Convention made provision for on-the- 
spot inspection where smuggling was suspected, so that the system was 
not a carte blanche for smuggling; (b) the U.S. shipping industry had a 
major stake in the continuation of the TIR system; (c) "recent trend as- 
sessments by DEA indicate that overland transportation of drugs has de- 
creased considerably over the last decade"; and (d) "U.S. Customs 
does not have a documented factual basis to conclude that Bulgaria has 
violated the TIR system and we are not aware of any other agency hav- 
ing such information."" Thus, whatever allegations were made by the 
DEA, the State Department, and by western disinformationists, the 
U.S. agency most likely to be aware of Bulgarian violations of the TIR 
Convention did not believe there was much substance to them. 

Finally, Bulgarian guilt was reinforced for members of the Foreign 
Affairs Committee by the frequent reminders coming from both DEA 
and the State Department that the U.S. Customs Service had broken off 
its earlier relationship with their Bulgarian counterparts — a relationship 
which had involved training programs, conferences, and information 
exchanges. Once again, however, the fine print at the end of the Com- 
mittee's report revealed a more complex story. The Customs Service 

10. Ibid. . p. 75. 

11. Ibid., p. 113. 

1 2. Ibid., p. 1 14. This denial was repeated by the DEA in answer to a similar question 
at Senator Hawkins's "Drugs and Terrorism, 1984" hearings later in the summer: "No 
direct association between KINTEX and the 'Gray Wolves' has been reported to the 
DEA" (Drugs and Terrorism, 1984, op. cil., n. 3. p. 64). 

13. Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection, op. cit., n. 4, pp. 131-35 



APPENDIX B 



231 



acknowledged that the United States and Bulgaria lacked the kind of ex- 
change agreement which Bulgaria had negotiated with several coun- 
tries, including West Germany and Austria, under which investigations 
by one country's customs service are carried out at the request of 
another country's service. Negotiations for such an agreement had been 
begun by the United States and Bulgaria, but were broken off at the di- 
rection of the State Department in early 1983. 14 In answer to written 
questions the Customs Service stated that it "has no hard evidence that 
the Government of Bulgaria has conducted illicit narcotics traffick- 
ing." 15 Indeed, it apparently maintained this position at an interagency 
meeting on July 18, between the first and the second session of the 
Committee's hearings, which was obviously called to iron out the dif- 
ferences in the stories being given the Committee by the two agencies. 
Noting that the DEA representative at the meeting had admitted that 
"evidence in DEA's possession would be considered hearsay in an Eng- 
lish court of law and that credible evidence would be difficult to ob- 
tain,""' the Customs Service refused to budge from its position. In fact, 
in answer to another question, the Customs Service stated that "the ces- 
sation of customs contact between U.S. and Bulgarian Customs is a pos- 
ition which is not enthusiastically supported by customs administrations 
of U.S. allies."" 

While there are many loose ends in the question of Bulgarian state 
participation — or even direction — in the smuggling trade that clearly 
sends vast quantities of drugs and other contraband back and forth be- 
tween Western Europe and the Middle East, for certain interests in both 
the United States and Italy these charges constituted a target of opportu- 
nity. The availability of uncheckable testimony from defectors, con- 
victed smugglers, and others with real or fabricated "information" to 
sell provided a ready and endless supply of material to document 
charges of Bulgarian culpability. Yet without the implication of Bul- 
garia in the attempt on the Pope it is doubtful that there would have been 
any market for these charges. A search through the indexes of the 
Washington Post and the New York Times, for example, reveals that 

14. Ibid., p. 84. 

15. Ibid., p. 115. 
16 Ibid. 

17. Ibid., p. 131 



232 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



only a few articles published prior to 1982 even allege any Bulgarian 
participation in narcotics smuggling. Yet following the arrest of An- 
tonov media interest in Bulgarian smuggling blossomed. And even 
though no new evidence of substance was discovered, publicity about 
alleged Bulgarian smuggling and charges that Bulgaria was behind the 
attempt on the Pope were mutually reinforcing, one "confirming" the 
other. 



The Echo Chamber 



As with other aspects of the Bulgarian Connection, the drugs-for-guns 
allegations benefitted from a recycling process that appeared to give the 
claims independent confirmation. We call this the "echo chamber"; 
and it has become a hallmark of the work of the disinformationists. 

A good example of the echo chamber at work occurred during the 
congressional hearings on Bulgarian support for narco-terrorism. On 
June 7, 1984, Paul Henze told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' 
"Task Force on International Narcotics Control" that "with Bulgarian 
help, what came to be called the Turkish Mafia' set up elaborate net- 
works, lodged in part among Turkish workers in Europe, for moving 
opium products westward." On July 17 the Wall Street Journal printed 
a long article by David Ignatius about the ongoing investigation of 
Agca's links to Turkish drug-smuggling bosses, particularly Abuzer 
Ugurlu. 18 Ignatius drew on Henze's House testimony and supplemented 
this with an interview, in which Henze claimed that "it is inconceivable 
that a widely known criminal operative such as Ugurlu could have lived 
and worked in Bulgaria without the approval of the Bulgarian intelli- 
gence service and the rest of the Bulgarian Communist Party hierar- 
chy." In all other respects as well, Ignatius's article was pure Henze, 
and was probably inspired by him, as it drew on a Turkish prosecutor's 
report which had "received little attention outside of Turkey," and was 

18. "Turks Closer to Linking Pope's Assailant with Bulgaria." The alleged Agca- 
Ugurlu link contributed to the reopening of the investigation into the murder of Ipekci in 
December 1982. just after Agca named Ugurlu. Ugurlu had surrendered himself for arrest 
in West Germany in March 1 98 1 , just before the deadline announced by the new Turkish 
martial law government for some forty wanted criminals to surrender or lose their Turkish 
citizenship. West Germany extradicted Ugurlu to Turkey. Characteristically, Henze and 
Sterling never mention that Ugurlu had surrendered himself voluntarily to the West Ger- 
man police. 



APPENDIX B 



233 



translated especially for the Wall Street Journal. 

Ignatius's long article was then presented to the next meeting of the 
House investigative committee by Senator Alfonse D' Amato, an adhe- 
rent of the Bulgarian Connection hypothesis and a collaborator with 
Claire Sterling since the fall of 1981. D' Amato claimed that the article 
corroborated the findings of Sterling and Henze. And a little over a 
week later, testifying before a Senate subcommittee looking into "the 
link between drugs and terrorism," Henze cited the Journal article 
("the only U.S. newspaper to report these developments") in support of 
his Agca-Ugurlu-Bulgaria linkage. " 

Thus, in the real world of the disinformation process, two congres- 
sional committees had heard witnesses testify about the Agca-Ugurlu- 
Bulgaria link. The testimony had been supported by a Wall Street Jour- 
nal investigation. And the Journal, drawing on a previously unknown 
Turkish prosecutor's report and expert testimony before Congress, had 
updated its readers on the growing evidence that Bulgarian-backed 
smuggling formed the root of the Bulgarian Connection. It would be 
only natural for the creators and consumers of "informed opinion" to 
believe that a fact of some importance was being confirmed by several 
sources. It is unlikely that anyone noticed that these apparent confirma- 
tions were only the echo chamber at work, reverberating another of 
Henze 's claims to create the appearance of multiple confirmation. 



19. Drugs and Terrorism, 1984. op. cil.. n. 3, p 97 



c. Hie Use and Misuse 
of Defectors 



During the Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s, some ex-com- 
munist witnesses briefly made a new career for themselves, testifying 
and writing about their first-hand experience with the communist 
menace. Not surprisingly, this new profession fell under the sway of 
economic laws; and ex-communist witnesses were forced to develop 
and improve their products once the novelty of their original message 
wore off. As noted by David Caute, "invention" was "the specialty of 
renegades, who traded heavily in mounting American popular fears," 
and Soviet emigres "were always ready to delight congressional com- 
mittees with the wildest 'inside stories' of diabolical Kremlin plots.'" 
By their assertions and claims of Red evil the ex-communist witnesses 
helped to legitimate the repression of the Red Scare era; and subsequent 
exposure of much of their information as completely fictitious had only 
a marginal impact on the media's receptivity to similar testimony by 
other witnesses. 

What the ex-communist witness was to the era of the Red Scare and 
McCarthyism, the defector is to the age of "international terrorism" 
and disinformation. 2 Most of those who leave Soviet Bloc countries or 
other official enemies of the United States, of course, simply come to 
the West to start a new life. Some emigres undoubtedly hope to return, 
and await the collapse of whatever regime rules his or her homeland. 
And some take up the cause of counterrevolution, whether it be as con- 

1 . David Caule, The Great Fear (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 131-32. 

2. To our knowledge there are no studies which scrutinize the sum total of defector evi- 
dence analogous to the several useful studies of ex-communist witnesses of the Red Scare 
era. See, (or example, Herbert Packer's Ex-Communist Witnesses (Stanford: Stanford 
University Press, 1962); or Victor Navasky's Naming Names (New York: Viking Press, 
1980). 



234 



APPENDIX C 



235 



Iras, as broadcasters for Radio Free Europe, or as analysts for the CIA. 
The defector may share one or more of these attributes, but to be a de- 
fector the 6migr6 must possess certain other characteristics which are of 
use to the West. The value of defectors is governed by two things: the 
information that they bring with them, and their willingness to bear wit- 
ness to the evils of the state they left behind. Some defectors, such as 
star athletes or dancers, can fulfill this latter category passively, simply 
by living and performing in the West. But government workers or mili- 
tary officers, having no independent source of fame — and thus salabil- 
ity — in the West, must provide important information and/or be willing 
to testify publicly about life in the East, and especially about the plans 
and methods of the Soviet-Bloc rulers. 

The testimony of defectors, however, is extremely unreliable and eas- 
ily subject to manipulation. For one thing, many defectors are bitter and 
may want to generate hostility against their homeland, which may lead 
them to inflate or invent negative information. Furthermore, defectors 
who claim a lot of knowledge about the enemy are more marketable 
than those admitting that they know very little. Once defectors have 
been debriefed in the West on their areas of expertise, however, they 
have nothing else to sell, and must either enter the private economy or 
' 'discover' ' new information to remain employed by the public sector. 
This provides a market incentive to create information. 

Sometimes sudden shifts in consumer demand reactivate old defec- 
tors. This was the case with the Bulgarian Connection, which breathed 
new life into the market for Bulgarian defectors. Elements of the secu- 
rity services of the West are often willing to connive with defectors to 
concoct serviceable points of disinformation, and to use defectors to 
convey these documents to the mass media. Edward Jay Epstein cites 
the testimony of former CIA officer Joseph Burkholder Smith, "who 
disclosed that the CIA had sent a Soviet defector to deliver [Reader's 
Digest editor John] Barron a story it had wholly invented," and which 
Barron subsequently used in his published writings under Reader's Di- 
gest auspices. 3 

A timely illustration of the political economy of the defector can be 
found in the case of former Soviet diplomat Arkady Shevchenko, whose 
book Breaking With Moscow became a best seller in mid- 1985. Two 
fine investigative reports have traced the rehabilitation and marketing of 

3. Edward J. Epstein, "The Spy Who Caine In To Be Sold," New Republic, July 15- 
22, 1985, p. 41. 



236 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Shevchenko. After his defection in 1978, he initially produced material 
which was then characterized by Time magazine as "far less valuable as 
an intelligence source than had been anticipated." Based on its own in- 
telligence sources. Time concluded that Shevchenko "had little knowl- 
edge of the inner workings of current Soviet policies or intelligence op- 
erations." This estimate was shared by analysts from the Defense Intel- 
ligence Agency. Indeed, when the Simon and Schuster publishing house 
received the completed manuscript of Shevchenko's story in 1979, for 
which they had advanced $146,000 on their $600,000 contract, they 
sued for the return of their advance because the book "did not contain 
sufficient new material about the Soviet Union to merit its publication. 
There were no revelatory firsthand conversations with Soviet leaders — 
and no mention of any espionage activities by him." 4 

But in 1984, in a new political climate with a lower threshhold of gul- 
libility, Shevchenko's memoirs returned to the publishers. This time 
they were repackaged, with entirely new sections on his alleged conver- 
sations with Khrushchev, and with the revelation that he had actually 
been a mole for the CIA all along. Edward Jay Epstein made a point-by- 
point analysis of the plausibility of several of Shevchenko's claims, 
characterizing them as "demonstrably fictitious," and calling Shev- 
chenko "the spy who never was." Moreover — and of great relevance to 
the Bulgarian Connection — Epstein pointed out that Shevchenko's 
"super mole" activities were first passedonby theCIA to the Reader's 
Digest's John Barron, and that Barron incorporated them into his 1983 
publication, The KGB Today: The Hidden Hand. Coverage by CBS's 60 
Minutes, a Time cover story, a best seller, a lucrative movie deal, and a 
position as a regular commentator on Soviet affairs for ABC News soon 
followed. Shevchenko's marketability has been completely untouched 
by the exposure of his fabrications. 5 Thus Shevchenko shares with 
Mehmet Ali Agca this dubious distinction: Two of the most famous 
disinformation sources of our era have been sold to the U.S. public 
through a series of fabrications that began with the collaboration of 

4. Ibid., pp. 3S-36. See also David Remnick, "Shevchenko: The Saga Behind the Best 
Seller," Washington Post, June 15, 1985. The quotations from Time are cited in Epstein, 
op cit., n 3., p. 35. 

5. In November 1985, for example, the New York Times published Shevchenko's Op- 
Ed article on the redefection of Soviet KGB official Vitaly Yurchenko. ("A Lesson of the 
Yurchenko Affair," November 12. 1985). And ABC called upon Shevchenko to com- 
ment on the significance of the Summit. Long after Epstein's expos£, the New York Times 
Book Review gave favorable notice and an unqualified recommendation of Shevchenko's 
book to its readers. (December 8, 1985: January 26, 1986.) 



APPENDIX C 



237 



western intelligence services and the Reader's Digest. 

Shevchenko's story is illustrative of the role of the defector in fab- 
ricating myths about Soviet strategies to defeat the West. Needless to 
say, writers such as Sterling, Henze, and Ledeen do not pause for even a 
moment to consider whether defector testimony presents any problems 
of veracity. A delightful example of this is found in Sterling's The Ter- 
ror Network, where she brings in a Czech defector, Major General Jan 
Sejna, to support her claim that the Soviets had set up terrorist training 
camps as far back as 1964. Indeed, Sejna's testimony plays a central 
role in Sterling's argument about Soviet responsibility for international 
terrorism. Yet it tums out that Sejna had been debriefed by western in- 
telligence in 1968, and had never mentioned this important information, 
because (according to Sterling) "nobody ever asked him about such 
matters." It wasn't until 1980, when Michael Ledeen fortuitously asked 
Sejna about Soviet plans for international terrorism, that Sejna thought 
to tell anyone about the terrorist training camps. This convenient recol- 
lection coincided with the Haig-Ledeen demand for just this kind of in- 
formation, essential to make the transition from "human rights" to "in- 
ternational terrorism" as the public relations face of the new administra- 
tion's foreign policy. 

Sejna's testimony, however, does not withstand examination. Leav- 
ing aside the absurdity that Sejna would let such an accusation languish 
in his notes for 12 years before bringing it to public attention, as we 
noted in Chapter 6, Sejna's claims were so implausible that the CIA 
concocted a document outlining a supposed Soviet plan for world domi- 
nation. When it was shown to Sejna, he verified it as authentic." There 
is evidence that this document, with Sejna as a conduit, served to feed 
the fires of the anti-Soviet and anti-terrorism crusades of the late 1 970s. 
In 1981 the New York Times'* Leslie Gelb was told by intelligence offi- 
cials, skeptical about information on terrorism coming to them from 
European intelligence agencies, that "what we are hearing is this 10- 
year old testimony coming back to us through West European intelli- 
gence and some of our own CIA people." 7 Alexander Cockbum claims 
that Amaud de Borchgrave rushed back from France in 1978 with the ex- 
citing new information from French intelligence that the Soviets had a 

6. Lars-Erik Nelson, "The deep terror plot: a thickening of silence," New York Daily 
News, June 24, 1984, p. CI 4: Alexander Cockbum, "Beat the Devil," The Nation, Au- 
gust 17-24. 1985. p 102. 

7. Leslie Gelb, "Soviet-Terror Ties Called Outdated," New York Times, October 18. 
1981 



238 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



master plan for world domination, which was the CIA forgery repack- 
aged once again. Alexander Haig had also been delighted with the 
Sejna-based stories, particularly as cited by Claire Sterling in The Ter- 
ror Network, and was quite annoyed that his own officials kept telling 
him that "he was basically repeating the stories of the Czech defec- 
tor." 8 

Between them, Shevchenko and Sejna illustrate several general prin- 
ciples of the political economy of defectors that we noted earlier. They 
serve a critical role in testifying publicly about the Soviet system. They 
appear to be the conduits of forged or imaginary documents. And their 
value is closely tied to market conditions, rising steeply during the 
Reagan administration. This latter point has been doubly applicable in 
the case of Bulgarian defectors, whose boats have risen with the tide, 
but who have been especially lifted by the alleged Bulgarian Connec- 
tion. In Chapter 7 we briefly noted the useful role played by Jordan 
Mantarov, the agricultural mechanic who claimed to have been on the 
staff of the Bulgarian Embassy in France, and to have passed on infor- 
mation on the plot to kill the Pope to French intelligence. Discredited, 
Mantarov has quietly passed into at least temporary obscurity. 

Perhaps the person who has gained the most by the sudden rise in the 
marketability of Bulgarian defectors is Stefan Sverdlev, a former Bulga- 
rian official who defected to Greece in 1971. Sverdlev was a colonel in 
the Bulgarian State Security Service, the KDS (now DS). After the ar- 
rest of Antonov in November 1982, Sverdlev was the western media's 
primary source for the claim that, if the Bulgarians were involved, the 
Soviets must have known about it because the Bulgarian security ser- 
vices are completely dominated by the Soviets." This claim, of course, 
could only be used so many times before its novelty wore off. And so 

8 Ibid,, Cockbum, op. cit., n. 6; and Nelson, op. cit., n. 6. 

9. According to Claire Sterling, "lengthy interviews with Col. Sverdlev have appeared 
in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, the Reader's Digest, 
the leftwing Paris daily Liberation, the conservative Le Figaro, and the Italian Socialist 
Party's A vanti : . " ("An Eastern Defector's Family Is Taken for a Ride Home," Wall Street 
Journal, November 23, 1983.) The burden of Sterling's article, incidentally, was to de- 
scribe the alleged kidnapping of Sverdlev's wife and 1 3-year-old son by the Bulgarians on 
the weekend of November 12-13, 1983. Neither Sterling nor the Journal followed up on 
this sad story. As the New York Times reported three weeks later, it quickly became appar- 
ent that Sverdlev's wife was unhappy in the West and returned, taking their son with her. 
"She has done this because she has the nature of an adventurer," said Sverdlev. James 
Markham, "Bulgarian Exiles Get Reminder from Motherland," New York Times, De- 
cember 12. 1983. 



APPENDIX C 



239 



Sverdlev, like the ex-communist witnesses of an earlier era, developed a 
new product. 

Sverdlev's new area of specialization became the alleged Bulgarian 
role in international narcotics trafficking. He served as the primary 
source for Nathan Adams's 1983 Reader's Digest article, which in turn 
served as the major documentary "evidence" for the House Foreign Af- 
fairs Committee hearing on the "Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connec- 
tion" in the summer of 1984.'° Just as Maj. Gen. Sejna suddenly recall- 
ed critical evidence on Soviet support f or international terrorism when 
he was interviewed more than a decade after his defection by Michael 
Ledeen, the most important piece of news that Sverdlev gave Nathan 
Adams in 1983 was about the existence of a secret 1970 Bulgarian di- 
rective to implement a 1967 Warsaw Pact plan to destabilize and corrupt 
the West through narcotics. Sverdlev had not thought to tell anyone 
about this directive before his interview with Adams." Needless to say, 
Sverdlev did not have this directive in his possession; it had been left be- 
hind with Greek intelligence, he claimed, when he left Greece for West 
Germany in 1977. (Conditions in Greece apparently became steadily 
less comfortable for him after the fall of the Colonels' junta in 1974.) 
But he did remember the document's date (July 16, 1970) and its 
number (M- 120/00-0500), despite the fact that he had not been called 
upon to retrieve this information from his memory in over a decade. 

Sverdlev's testimony is highly suspect. It seems unbelievable that, 
given his apparently continuing connection with western intelligence 
after leaving Greece in 1977, he would fail to mention such a salable 
commodity. It also seems unlikely that, given the Greek government's 
connections to the CIA, such a document would have been kept from 
the Agency prior to 1977. And when former U.S. ambassador to Bul- 

10. "Drugs forGuns: The Bulgarian Connection," Reader's Digest, November 1983, 
pp. 84-98. These hearings and their context are examined more generally in Appendix B, 
above. 

1 1. Paul Henze (old the House Foreign Affairs Committee lha I "Many of Sverdlev's re- 
velations were taken lightly at the lime he made them, even by intelligence profession- 
als." (Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection: United States-Bulgarian Relations and 
International Drug Trafficking, Hearings and Markup before the Committee on Foreign 
Affairs, House of Representatives, 98th Congress, 2nd Session, 1984, p. 30.) But news of 
the Warsaw Pact destabilization plan was apparently omitted completely During Adams's 
testimony before the same committee, there was some momentary confusion about 
whether Adams's claim to have been the first to hear Sverdlev's information, as Sverdlev 
also maintained, was conect A subsequent insertion into the committee s record agreed 
with Adams. Ibid. , p °<i 



240 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



aria Jack Perry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's 
hearings on the "Bulgarian-Turkish Narcotics Connection," he told the 
Committee that "I read aboui that [Sverdlev's claims] in the Reader's Di- 
gest, but I was never aware of it when I was on active duty, and I have 
never seen that intelligence." 12 Thus it seems most likely that 
Sverdlev's document never existed, and that Adams and Sverdlev had 
developed the sort of mutually beneficial relationship which character- 
izes the contemporary misuse of defectors. 

In sum, defectors are now part of the market system, with the demand 
for particular kinds of evidence eliciting the required supply. This sys- 
tem only works because the mass media refuse to look critically at sys- 
tem-supportive claims. Even devastating exposds of a Sejna or Shev- 
chenko fail to dislodge charlatans or constrain the use of demonstrable 
fraud. This allows the system of defector mobilization and management 
to continue unimpaired. 



12. Ibid. 



D. Sterling versus Andronov 



The methodology used by Claire Sterling and Paul Henze can be readily 
employed to prove CIA involvement in the assassination attempt against 
the Pope. This was done by Soviet journalist Iona Andronov in his 
monograph On the Wolfs Track.' Although we do not find it very con- 
vincing, Andronov provided a somewhat more compelling case than 
Sterling and Henze. As he advanced the wrong villain, however, his 
work has been ignored in the West. A brief comparison of Sterling and 
Andronov may be instructive in showing the irrelevance of method and 
the overwhelming importance of proper conclusions in mass media 
choices of stories to feature. 



Red Network Methodology Applied to Bulgarian and CIA 
Connections. 



Red Network methodology starts with the prior knowledge of Red Cen- 
ter guilt. In consequence, it does not require much in the way of sup- 
porting evidence. The heart of the method is to find "linkages" and 
then to search around for someone who will say that the linkages reflect 
"control" by the Red Center. Thus, after a protracted search described 
at great length in The Time of the Assassins, Sterling found an unnamed 
Interpol agent who gave "his oath" that the Bulgarian secret services 
controlled the Turkish Mafia. 2 Experts in this area, including the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Customs Service, and Turk- 
ish journalist Ugur Mumcu, have stated repeatedly that there is no evidence 
that Bulgaria controls the Turkish Mafia. Sterling prefers the claim of 
the anonymous informant (if he exists) who asserted Bulgarian control, 

1. Iona Andronov, On the Wolfs Track (Sofia: Sofia Press, 1983). 

2. The Time of the Assassins (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983). p 225 



241 



242 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



and on this basis Bulgarian control becomes definitive fact for Sterling. 3 
The Turkish Mafia works frequently with the Gray Wolves. Based on 
this association. Sterling says "The Wolves were being run by this huge 
contraband ring, the Turkish Mafia, unique in the world in that it was 
really working for a Communist state corporation under the sponsorship 
of the Communist state of Bulgaria. ' ' 4 Thus once again we move f rom a 
linkage to control, here without even bothering with the anonymous 
confirmation. Supplemented by the imputed motive, the Soviet desire to 
stop the Polish Solidarity movement, the Bulgaria-Turkish Mafia-Gray 
Wolves-Agca links become a chain of command responsible for the as- 
sassination attempt. 

Using this same Red Network methodology, it is not at all difficult to 
put up an imaginative demonstration that the CIA was behind the plot to 
kill the Pope. This is the case that Andronov develops, which is the east- 
em variant of the Sterling model. Andronov argues, as does Sterling, 
that the Gray Wolves themselves had no real motive for shooting the 
Pope; they had to be manipulated by an external power. The purpose of 
the Plot was to discredit the Soviet Union, in accordance with the new 
Reagan-Haig anticommunist crusade. It depended for its success on the 
likelihood that the western press "will jump at the murky fabricated ac- 
cusations against Moscow and Sofia of complicity in international ter- 
rorism."' Andronov acknowledges that such an act against the Pope 
seems incredible even for the CIA, but he notes that the CIA hired 
Mafia murderers to try to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, and 
he claims that there is a profascist grouping within the CIA that is capa- 
ble of anything." 

Andronov puts great weight on the linkages built up by the CIA in 
Turkey with the extreme Right. He points out that former CIA agent 
Frank Terpil acknowledged supplying arms and training to the Gray 
Wolves. He quotes Mumcu's statement that Tiirkes, the head of the 
Nationalist Action Party, "has always been strongly connected with the 
CIA.'" Andronov claims that the Turkish papers were full of reports 

3. "He [Agca] was picked by a unique criminal band called the Turkish Mafia, which 
operates out of Sofia, Bulgaria, which, indeed, is under the direct control and supervision 
of the Bulgarian Secret Service. ' ' "Why Is the West Covering Up for Agca: Exclusive In- 
terview with Claire Sterling," Human Events, April 21, 1984. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Op. ci/., n. I, p. 46. 

6. Ibid., p. 43. 
7 Ibid., p. 33. 



APPENDIX D 



243 



that the CIA armed the Gray Wolves and that the United States funded 
Tiirkes. He agrees with Sterling and Henze that the terror of the late 
1970s aimed at destabilization; but, reversing the Sterling-Henze line, he 
contends that destabilization was rightist in origin and served U.S. and 
rightwing interests. Andronov claims that the murder of lpekci on Feb- 
ruary 1, 1979, was part of this U.S. -inspired destabilization effort, 
lpekci was deeply concerned about the destabilization program and had 
assailed the Gray Wolves as an instrument of murder. Two weeks be- 
fore his assassination, on January 13, 1979, lpekci met by appointment 
Paul Henze, former CIA station chief in Turkey and at the time on the 
staff of the National Security Council. Andronov proposes that lpekci 
was warning Henze and urging him to control his subversive program in 
Turkey. 8 

For Andronov, a key link in the U.S. -backed destabilization effort 
was Ruzi Nazar, a former Nazi who worked in the U.S. Embassy in 
Turkey with Henze and then moved to West Germany. Nazar served in 
both Turkey and West Germany as the U.S. liaison with the Gray 
Wolves. Andronov cites several individuals, including Mumcu, who 
say that Nazar had real influence over the Gray Wolves.* 

Andronov's scheme of linkages and controls is as follows: Agca's 
paymaster in Europe was Celebi, a high Gray Wolves official in West 
Germany. It was Celebi who gave Agca the final go-ahead on the assas- 
sination attempt in April 1981 . Celebi, however, was a subordinate of 
both Tiirkes and Enver Altayli, an associate of Tiirkes who was in con- 
trol of all Turkish fascist finances and Gray Wolves propaganda. An- 
dronov quotes from an interview with Orsan Oymen, the Bonn corre- 
spondent of Milliyet: "According to information I have, Altayli collabo- 
rates with the American CIA.'" 0 The linkages are complete: a CIA- 
Gray Wolves-Agca connection is confirmed by at least three named 
sources. 

Although we do not believe these arguments to be true, the Andronov 
case is far stronger than Sterling's. What gives it special strength is the 
consistency of motive and results. The motive was to incriminate the 
Soviet Union and discredit it in the eyes of the world, to help Reagan 
convince the U.S. public to accept a major rearmament and to persuade 
Europeans of the necessity of Pershing and cruise missiles. What is 

8. Ibid., p. 30. 

9. Mumcu reproduces a long letter from Gray Wolves leader Enver Altayli to Tiirkes in 
which a cooperative relationship with Nazar is made clear. See above, p. 64, n. 49. 

10. Op. cit., n. I, p. 39. 



244 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



more, the assassination plot worked well to meet these ends. By con- 
trast, Sterling's version requires irrational and exceptionally incompe- 
tent Soviet behavior. The Andronov model is consistent with rational 
CIA behavior and the results of the plot are compatible with Reagan- 
CIA objectives. 

Sterling and Henze, of course, would rule out CIA involvement on 
the ground that this is not the kind of thing the United States would do. 
There is some truth in this. Shooting the Pope, even through a hired sur- 
rogate, would be an extraordinary act. It is doubtful that the top officials 
of the CIA would authorize it as a means of helping a propaganda war 
against the Soviets, even though the CIA has arranged for many at- 
tempts to kill foreign leaders." But similar doubts may be raised that the 
cautious Soviet leadership would be any more likely to engage in such 
an extraordinary and risky venture than the CIA. 12 

1 1 . See, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, Interim Report of the 
Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence, U.S. 
Senate Report No. 94-465, 94th Congress, 1st Session, November 20, 1975 

12. See Chapter 2, pp. 14 ISandn. 13. In a fine illustration of Sterling methodology, 
in The Time of the Assassins she reports a conversation involving Martin Peretz, editor of 
the New Republic and several New Republic interns who think the KGB plot far-fetched: 

"Tell me," pursued Marty "What do you think of the story that the CIA plotted 
to kill Fidel Castro?" "Oh, that! Of course!" "Why are you so ready to believe 
that the CIA would kill Castro, but not that the KGB would kill the Pope?" Marty 
went on, intrigued." "Because the CIA does things like that " 
Sterling fails to note that the CIA's multiple ef forts t o murder Castro are not "a story" but 
are on the record, acknowledged by government authorities. By contrast, the evidence for 
a Soviet connection to the plot to kill the Pope is sorely lacking. Furthermore, the doubt- 
ing interns may be questioning the logic of the plot, which, as we spelled out earlier, has 
serious flaws. 



E. Hie Georgetown 
Disinformation Center 



The papal assassination attempt provided a cornucopia of propaganda 
opportunities for hardliners, both in government and out. A well-pub- 
licized report by the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International 
Studies (CSIS), entitled "The International Implications of the Papal 
Assassination^ Attempt: A Case of State-Sponsored Terrorism,"' took 
full advantage of these opportunities to score political points. While the 
title of the document suggests that readers might expect a serious discus- 
sion of the substance of the case, Bulgarian and Soviet guilt were as- 
sumed beforehand as a working premise. The big question raised by the 
report was: What should U.S. responses be if the Soviets are shown to 
be behind the papal shooting? The document thus had the built-in objec- 
tivity of a report on an individual entitled: ' 'How should we deal with 
John Doe if it is established that he beats his wife?" 

The Plot was framed in a Sterlingesque setting in which international 
terror is sponsored by states which aim to "undermine world order." 
The guilty state is of course the Soviet Union, and the point of the CSIS 
report was to stress that "the papal case can be used as a symbol" in a 
propaganda campaign to dramatize the Soviets as the center of ter- 
rorism. The authors of the report faced several problems, however. 
First, there is the issue of whether the United States has clean hands. 
Are South Africa and Israel terrorist states? Are they U.S. surrogates? 
Are the contras U.S. instruments of terror? Are Chile, El Salvador, and 
Guatemala engaged in terrorist attacks on their own citizens? Can the 
Soviets match the CIA 's numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro? 

I. This is a "Report of the CSIS Steering Committee on Terrorism," Zbigniew 
Brzezinski and Robert H. Kupperman, Co-chairmen, published in December 1984 by the 
CSIS in its Significant Issues Series, Vol VI, No. 20 



245 



246 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



This issue is mentioned fleetingly in the report and passed by without 
serious discussion. 

A second problem was that the truth of the Bulgarian Connection had 
not yet been decided in the Italian courts at the time the report was pub- 
lished. As noted, the conferees assumed Soviet involvement without 
presenting any supportive evidence. Co-chairman Robert Kupperman 
smoothly asserted in his Overview that "most thoughtful observers" 
believe in the Connection. He does not name any such observers nor 
provide any citations. The issue of Soviet guilt was also dealt with in a 
manner suggesting the Henze "print": doubts on this point represent a 
"legalistic and narrow-minded" attitude that "is not politically 
sound." 2 The report also notes that aggressive U.S. government accusa- 
tions of Bulgarian and Soviet guilt might be regarded as interfering with 
Italian judicial processes. This did not prevent the conferees from con- 
cluding that there should be an "organized effort on the part of the gov- 
ernment to develop as much credibility and access to information about 
the case as is needed to generate a political attitude." 

This perceived need for a more aggressive government propaganda 
effort was based on an alleged widespread disbelief in the Plot, which 
was attributed to a "prodigious" Soviet disinformation effort. The con- 
ferees agreed that the western media had been penetrated and that Soviet 
disinformation had "had an effect." The western media lacked aware- 
ness "about how disinformation functions." The conferees did not con- 
sider U.S. disinformation, which may not exist for them. This stress on 
Soviet disinformation and western media victimization is a longstanding 
focus of the Henze-Sterling-de Borchgrave school, which tries to make 
all dissenting opinion a product of Red influence, not disagreement 
about the facts. This vision leads naturally to the conclusion that we 
should bring Big Government into play to deal with this menace: The 
CSIS report urges the U .S. government to use "informal connections" 
to "discourage the internal process of imposing more and more skepti- 
cism on the Bulgarian (and possibly Soviet) involvement." (Transla- 
tion: the U.S. government should intervene to discourage dissenting 
views on the Plot.) 

Given the loss of the case in Italy, several questions arise. If, as Kup- 
perman suggested, "most thoughtful observers" thought the Bulgarians 
and KGB guilty, how did they blunder so egregiously? Could it be that 
the people the CSIS regard as "thoughtful" are a wee bit biased, 

2. See Chapter 6, pp. 148-149 



APPENDIX E 



247 



perhaps even in the disinformation business? 3 Banish the thought! It is 
obvious that the truth did not prevail in Italy because of the power of 
KGB disinformation and the West's fear of offending the Soviet Union 
and disturbing detente. 4 If I win, justice is done; if I lose, the deck is 
stacked. 

The composition of the working group that produced the report ena- 
bles us to understand its content: Paul Henze, former CIA propaganda 
officer; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser to Car- 
ter and member of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD); Max 
Kampelman, CPD member and Reagan's choice for arms control 
negotiator; Ray Cline, formerly of the CIA; Robert Kupperman, "ter- 
rorism expert' ' of CSIS; Marvin Kalb, author of the extremely biased 
NBC-TV program on the plot; and Amaud de Borchgrave, Red Scare 
novelist and editor of Reverend Moon's Washington Times. That de 
Borchgrave is an Adjunct Fellow of the CSIS tells us a great deal about 
that organization. So does this report in general. 



3. Michael Ledeen has been a stalwart of the CSIS. and Kupperman hired as his adviser 
on Italy Francesco Pazienza, under multiple indictment in Italy for forgery, theft, and col- 
laboration with terrorists. See Chapter 6. 

4 This last point is put forward regularly by Sterling. See Preface and Chapter 6. 



Index 



ABC-TV, 199-200, 204, 213 
Adams, Nathan M., 226-27, 228. 230, 
239 

Adnan (Mehmet Ali Agca's brother), 42, 
155,219 

Agca, Mehmet Ali, 1, 10, 16-17, 35, 36, 
120, 138, 181, 187-88 
allegations by (later retracted), of plot 

to kill Lech Walesa, 2, 29, 30-32. 

33, 117, 157, 192, 193 
as a longtime rightwing activist in 

Turkey, 42, 48, 50-56, 65, 137-38, 

155, 217, 218, 220, 221, 223, 224; 

see also Gray Wolves 
as an unlikely recruit for Soviet-bloc 

secret services, 15-16; see also 

Agca, as a longtime rightwing 

activist in Turkey 
as sole witness against the Bulgarians, 

2, 157, 190 , 211 
claim of, to be Jesus Christ, ix-x, 39, 

155. 181. 194, 196 
coaching of, in prison, 3-4, 5, 32, 33, 

40-41, 57, 102-12, 1 19, 121-22, 

195, 198, 202 
credibility of, ix-x. 2. 27, 37-38. 59- 

60, 120-21. 183-84, 189. 191, 197. 

200-01 , 236-37; see also Agca, 

retractions by. of previous testimony 
desire of, for public attention, 56-57, 

105-6, 108, 196, 200 
escape of, from Turkish prison, 52, 

137. 140^1 
identification of Bulgarians by, 2, 21, 

22, 23-24, 26-27, 30, 110-11. 116 

17 

influence on, of media presentation of 
Bulgarian Connection, 24, 28, 57, 
202, 207 



initial testimony of, 20, 220-22 

long delay of, in naming alleged co- 
conspirators, 17-18, 23-24. 107 

retractions by, of previous testimony, 
17, 31, 32-34, 36, 38, 109-10, 115- 
17, 138-40, 157, 181, 192, 193. 
194, 196-97, 200, 201 

role of. in assassination of progressive 
newspaper editor Ipekci, 52, 187, 
217, 222 

testimony of, in second trial, ix-x, 39, 
194-97 

threat by, to kill the Pope in Turkey, 
14, 52-53, 156, 186, 187, 196 

trial of. in July 1981. 18-19 

trip to Bulgaria by, 13-14. 16. 20. 53, 
184, 187, 207, 210-11 
Agca Dossier (Mumcu), 1 37-38 
Agee, Philip, 132 
Ahmad, Feroz, 49, 51-52 
Aivazov, Todor, 17, 28, 32. 35. 107, 

115, 117. 140 
Albano, Antonio, 36, 87, 104, 122, 191, 

210 

Albano Report, 15-16, 36, 109-10, 119, 
190-94, 203-4 

coverage of, in western media, 6, 181, 
190-94, 200-201 

leaking of. 33. 36. 119. 120. 140 
Amnesty International. 151 
Andronov, Iona, 64, 133, 141-42, 170, 

179, 241-44 
Andropov, Yuri, 1-2 
Angleton, James, 74, 132 
Antonov, Mrs. Rossitsa, 17. 117, 120- 

21, 140. 176, 193, 200 
Antonov, Sergei, 2, 101, 127 

Agca's testimony against, 17, 32-33, 
36, 109-10, 1 11-12, 1 16-17, 212 



248 



INDEX 



249 



arrest of, 23, 28, 177 
Apple, R. W., Jr., 217, 221-22, 223-24 
Arms Smuggling and Terrorism 

(Mumcu), 27, 59-60 
Ascoli Piceno prison, 102, 103, 195 
Atlantic Community, 148 

Bagci, Omer, 50, 54 
Banco Ambrosiano, 38, 84, 94, 97, 99 
Barron, John, 134, 235, 236 
"Bayramic," 27, 28, 110, 111 
Begin, Menachem, 68, 69 
Belarus Secret, The (Loftus), 62-63 
Belmonte, Giuseppi, 91, 92, 93, 108, 
122 

"Billygate" scandal, 5, 95-96, 99 

Birindelli. Admiral, 89 

Board lor International Broadcasting, 

147-48 
Bonner, Raymond, 165 
Borghese, Prince Junio Valerio, 72, 74, 

80 

Breaking with Moscow (Shevchenko), 
235-36 

Breytenbach, Breyton, 129-31 
Briand. Ali, 152 
Brink, Andre, 130 
Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 67, 145, 147, 
149, 160, 161, 179, 185, 203, 247 
Buckley, William F , Jr , 175, 177 
Bulgarian Connection: 
alleged Soviet motivation in, 14-15, 

20, 24-25, 55, 144, 184, 210 
discrediting of, in second trial, ix-xi, 

2, 39-41, 181, 194-97 
emergence of, in 1981-82, 20-29, 222 
logical difficulties presented by, 12-18, 

36-37, 55-57, 187-88, 210-12 
multiple origins of, 206-7. 208-9; see 
also Agca, coaching of; Mafia; 
secret services, Italian; Vatican 
post-trial attempts to rehabilitate, xii- 

xv, 214-215 
propagation of, by U.S. media, xi- 
xvii, 1, 5-6, 7-8, 123, 176-89, 213- 
14, 215; see also individual 
publications and TV networks 
Reagan administration as beneficiary 
of, I, 71, 100, 101, 123, 145 
Bush, George, 69 

Calvi, Roberto. 84, 94. 97 



Caprara, Massimo, 75-76 
carabinieri, Italian, 76-77, 79-80, 89 
Carter, Barry, 185, 188 
Carter, Billy, 95-96 
Catli, Abdullah, 13, 40-41, 54, 65, 90, 
121 

Caute, David, 234 
Cavallero, Roberto, 80, 81 
CBS-TV News, 183, 184-85, 227 
Celebi, Musa, 27, 35, 54. 56. 120, 155, 
156, 243 

Celenk, Bekir, 26, 27, 40, 59-60, 109, 
140, 226 

Celik, Oral, 21, 22. 26, 37 . 51, 52, 54, 

115, 121, 155, 207, 212. 221, 225 
Cem, Ismail, 62 

Central Intelligence Agency, 69, 70, 
132-33, 135, 136. 142, 146, 159, 236 
alleged involvement of, in papal 

assassination attempt, 179, 242-44 
and Korean airliner incident, 163, 215 
in Italy, 5, 59, 73, 75. 77. 80. 99, 
160 

links of, to right-wing Turks, 61-64, 
242-43 

Paul Henze as longtime employee of, 
64, 133. 142, 146-47, 150, 154, 

243 

reaction of, to Bulgarian Connection 
theory, 29, 145^16, 177-78 
Cheme, Leo, 148 

Christian Science Monitor, 7, 147, 183, 
226 

CIA. See Central Intelligence Agency 
Cilleri, Giuseppi, 106, 208 
Cirillo, Ciro, 66, 92, 97 
Cline, Ray. 69, 159, 247 
Coalition for a Democratic Majority 

(CDM), 67, 69 
Cockbum, Alexander, 124. 237 
Commentary, 203 

Commission on Security and Cooperation 

in Europe. 25 
Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), 

67 

Communist Party of Italy (PCI), 66, 76, 

79. 83. 92. 100. 144. 191 
Consolo, Giuseppi, 103, 107 
Coogan, Kevin, 90 
Corriere delta Sera, 83-84, 160 
Counter-Guerrilla, 6 1 , 62 
Craxi, Bettino, 91, 97, 100, 101, 196 
Crozier. Brian, 69, 133 



250 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



CSIS. See Georgetown Center for 

Strategic and International Studies 
Curiel, Henri, 129, 130, 134-35, 197 
Cutolo, Raeffele, 97-98, 104, 109, 209 

D'Amato, Sen. Alfonse, 25-26, 145, 

229, 233 
D'Amato. Federico, 90 
D'Amato, Umberto, 96 
Darkness at Noon (Koestler), 101 
de Borchgrave, Amaud, 26, 1 18, 124, 

134, 135, 159, 160, 161, 168-69, 191, 

238-39, 247 
De Lorenzo, Giovanni, 76-77, 79, 80 
De Luca, Maurizio, 90 
De Lutiis, Giuseppi, 75, 76 
de Marenche, Comte Alexandre, 1 19 
Deadly Deceits (McGchae), 132 
Deger, Emin, 62 

delle Chiaie, Stefano, 78, 79, 80, 88, 

89. 90, 91 
Demirel, Prime Minister Suleyman, 48- 

49, 62 
Denton, Jeremiah, 7 
DIGOS, 20, 35, 221 
Dionne. E. J , Jr., 199 
Dobbs, Michael, 37, 51, 56-57, 60, 112, 

116, 124, 195, 196-97. 200-02, 204, 

211, 213 

criticisms of, by Claire Sterling, 131, 
201 

Doherty, William, 165-66 
Dontchev, Ivan, 30, 31, 33, 112 
d'Ovidio, Pietro, 18 
Drama of May 13, The, 102 
drug traffic, 57-58, 60 

allegations of Bulgarian involvement 
in, 29, 58-60, 93, 177, 225-33, 
239-40 

Duarte, Napoleon, 164, 165 

East Timor, 1 75 
Ecevit, Bulent, 154 
El Salvador, 164-66 
"Eof, Mustafa," 20. 21 
Epstein, Edward Jay, 235, 236 

Federici, Federico, 161 
Ferrarcsi, Franco, 87 
Fiore, Roberto, 91 
Flamini, Gianni, 75 
freemasonry, 82 

see also Propaganda Due 
Fresco. Robert, 62 



Gage, Nicholas, 180, 190, 204 

Gallucci, Achille, 10 

Gans, Herbert, 214 

Garment, Suzanne, 6 

Gelb. Leslie. 135, 149, 237 

Gelli, Licio, 81-84, 87, 92, 94, I 13, 

161, 198 
Gelman, Hairy. 185, 186 
Georgetown Center for Strategic and 

International Studies, 5, 159, 186, 

202, 245-47 
Giannettini, Guido, 85, 89 
Gilbert, Sari, 35, 171, 1.72-73, 218, 220- 

21 

Ginno, Padre, 103 

Giornale Nuovo, 11, 160 

Grave New World (Ledeen), 159. 162- 

64, 166-73, 198 , 203 
Gray Wolves, 34-35, 48, 50, 141, 218, 

219, 243 

Agca as participant in, 12-13, 50-55, 

106, 212, 218, 219, 223 
as witnesses in second trial, 39-40 
connections of, to CIA. 62-64 
involvement of, in smuggling, 57-58, 

60 

possible involvement of, in 

assassination attempt, 3, 1 1 , 40, 
118. 171 

relation of, to Nationalist Action Party. 

48, 49, 50, 51 
sheltering of Agca by, i n western 

Europe. 3. 1 1 , 40, 50, 53-55, 65, 

120. 220 
Grenada, 163-64 
Griffiths, William E., 203 
Grillmaier, Horsl, 137, 138 
Gunes, Hasan Fehmi, 137, 140-41, 144- 

45, 218 
Gwertzman, Bernard, 177 

Haig, Alexander, 70, 94, 96, 136. 171. 
238 

Hawkins. Sen. Paula, 228 

Helsinki Watch, 151-52. 153 

Henze, Paul, xi, 7, 67, 125, 145, 156- 

59, 161, 170, 193-94, 203, 205, 210, 

247 

appearances of, on TV, 180-81, 185, 
186-89 

as apologist for state terrorism in 

Turkey, 150-54 
as consultant to TV shows, 20, 99, 

184 



INDEX 



251 



as longtime CIA employee, 64, 133, 

142, 146-47, 150, 154, 243 
attacks by, on those with opposing 

viewpoints, 131-32, 142, 151, 202 
attempts by, to deny that Agca was a 

rightist, 49. 51. 52, 55-56 
denial by, of need for hard evidence in 

making accusations against the 

Soviet Union, 149, 150, 207 
influence of, on development of 

Bulgarian Connection theory, 20, 

24, 99, 149-50, 182-84, 207 
influence of, on Reader's Digest 

article, 99, 149-50 
on alleged Bulgarian drug smuggling, 

59, 225, 228, 229. 232-33, 239 
refusal by. to appear on TV shows 

with critics, 124, 147 
refutation of, by Ugur Mumcu, 150, 

153, 156, 187 
see also Plot to Kill the Pope. The 

(Henze) 
"Henzoff, Boris," 157-59 
Hoemeyer, Dr., 102-3 
Howe, Marvine, 189, 218, 220, 223 
Hunt. E Howard. 133 

Ignatius, David, 232-33 

Imposimato, Judge, 30-31 

In These Times, xv 

Infelisi. Luciano, 10, 218, 219 

Information Service of the Armed Forces 

(SIFAR), 75-77, 79, 80 
Inside the Company (Agee), 1 32 
Ipekci, Abdi, 51, 52, 187, 217, 222, 243 
Israel. 68-69 

Italian Social Movement (MSI), 74, 80, 
89 

John Paul II, Pope, I, 35, 170-71, 185, 
200, 223 

hostility to, of rightwing Turks, 12, 

52, 187, 206 
Soviets' alleged motives for wanting 

killed, 14-15, 20, 24-25, 55, 144, 

184. 210 

Johnstone, Diana, xvii, 50. 66-67, 95, 

109. 134, 190 
Jonathan Institute, 68-70, 100, 101 

Kalb. Marvin. 13. 16. 24. 29. 38, 39. 

150, 178, 184, 203, 204, 210, 247 
Kamm, Henry, 33, 172, 177, 178, 226 
Keegan, Major-General George, Jr., 69 



KGB, xii-xiii, 1, 8, 16, 131, 133. 141. 
143, 180, 181, 184, 187-88, 206 
alleged employment of Agca by, 13, 
25. 52, 55-56, 156 

KGB Today, The (Barron), 236 

Kikoski. John F , 203-5 

Kisacik. Rasit, 50 

Kissinger, Henry A., 149, 159, 160, 

161. 203 
Koestler. Arthur, 101 
"Kolev. Sotir," 26, 27, 28, 29. 30, 32, 

1 10, 212 

Korean airliner incident, 71, 163, 215 
Kovaci, Ismail, 56 
Kupperman, Robert, 160, 246, 247 
Kwitny, Jonathan. 96. 183 

Lagorio. Minister of Defense Lelio, 

100, I 10, 118, 212. 226 
Landis, Fred, 124-25, 159 
Laqueur, Walter, 160, 176 
Ledeen, Michael, xi, 135-36, 160, 170- 

73, 178, 237, 247 

as advocate of hard-line foreign policy, 

161-66, 198 
as an "authority" on the assassination 

attempt. 7, 25, 182, 203 
association of, with Francesco 

Pazienza, 5, 38-39, 93, 94-97, 99, 

160, 199 

attacks by, on the madia. 1 66-70. 171- 
73 

connections of, to extreme Right in 

Italy, 160-61 
influence of, 7, 125, 182 
involvement of, with Italian secret 

services, 94-96, 97, 109, 160, 198, 

208 

role of, in "Billygate" affair, 95-96, 
108 

role of, in fabricating Bulgarian 
Connection, 7, 125, 131 

see also Grave New World (Ledeen) 
Lee, Martin, 90 
Lefever, Ernest, 176 
Lehrer, Jim, 186-87, 188 
Levin, Murray B., 124, 176 
Loftus, John, 62-63 
London Times, 217,219, 220, 222 
Lugaresi, Gen. Nino, 96-97 

MacNeil, Robert, 186, 187, 188 
MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. 146, 182, 
184, 185-89 



252 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



appearances on, by Sterling, Henze, 
and Ledeen, 7. 8, 147, 180-81, 1 85- 
89 

Mafia, 208 
relation of, to Francesco Pazienza. 38, 

92, 97-98 
role of, in fabricating Bulgarian 

Connection, 3-4, 41, 98, 102, 198 
see also Cutolo, Raeffele 

"Mafia, Turkish," 59, 60, 61, 192-93, 
232, 24l-»2 

Malatya gang, 51-52, 57 

"Man Who Shot the Pope, The" (NBC- 
TV special), 24-25, 26, 28-29, 106, 
118, 142, 176, 179. 226 

Mantarov, lordan, 180-81. 200, 204. 238 

Manyon, Julian, 20 

March 12 from the Perspective of History 

(Cem), 62 
Marchetti, Victor, 73, 77 
Marini, Antonio, x, 197 
Martella, llario, 59, 101. 107, 110, 190. 

210 

credulousness of. 87, 115-16, 117-18, 

197, 211, 212 
ignoring by, of contrary evidence, 17, 

23, 51, III. 120, 122 
influence on, of Bulgarian 

Connnection publicists, 26, 39. 1 1 8- 

19 

investigation by, 21-24, 30-31 , 33, 36, 

103-4, 199, 211 
leaks allowed by. I 19-20 
prejudging of case by, 4, 28, I 14-15, 

211 

role of, in Agca's induced confession, 

23, 104, 118 
uncritical treatment of, in U.S. media, 

xiii, 6. 112-13, 188, 202 
see also Martella Report 
Martella Report, 3, 15-16, 22-23, 30, 
104, 118, 119, 181, 211 
weaknesses of, 22-23, 37, 118, 119 
Mazzola, Francesco, 20, 25, 98-99 
media, U.S.: 
criticisms of, by conservatives, 123- 

25, 166-70 
deference of, to Reagan administration, 
70-71 

double standard applied by, 1 57-59, 

167-68, 174-75 
initial coverage by, of assassination 

attempt, 1 1, 216-24 



propagation by, of Bulgarian 
Connection, xi-xvii, I, 5-6, 7-8, 
123, 176-89, 213-14, 215; see also 
individual publications and TV net- 
works 

reliance by, on Sterling, Henze, and 
Ledeen, 181-89 

role of, in propaganda campaigns, xi, 
174-76 
McGehee, Ralph, 132 
Melady, Thomas P., 203-5 
Merlino, Mario, 79, 89 
Mersan, Omer, 20, 24 
Miceli, Gen. Vito, 74, 80-81 
Mitliyet, 52. 103. 152, 243 
Minna, Rosario, 89 
MIT (Turkish intelligence service), 6 1 , 

62 

Morgan-Witts, Max, 35 
Morlion, Felix A., 112 
Moro, Aldo, 66-67, 79, 143-44 
Moss, Robert, 69, 70, 133, 161, 168-69 
MSI. See Italian Social Movement 
Mulack, Peter H , 227 
Mumcu, Ugur, 59-60, 63, 64, 106, 120, 
132, 137, 140, 200, 241, 242, 243 
refutation by, of Paul Henze, 1 50, 
153, 156. 187 
Munir, Metin, 217, 218 
Musumeci, Pietro, 66-67 , 91, 92 , 93, 
97, 98, 104, 106, 109, 122, 209 



NAP. See Nationalist Action Party 
Nationalist Action Party, II, 47-50, 53, 

58, 60, 62, 141, 187, 220, 221, 223 

anticommunism of, 60, 64 

involvement of, in drug smuggling, 
58, 60 

origins of, 42-43 

relation of, to Gray Wolves, 48, 49, 
50,51 

NATO, 75, 77, 78, 154, 162 

Nazar, Ruzi, 63-64, 243 

NBC Nightly News, 8, 38. 59, 149 

NBC-TV. 13. 16, 49, 57. 175, 182, 184, 

204, 21 1 
New Cold War, 3, 6. 7, 66 
New York Times, 7, 33, 35, 37, 135, 

136, 148, 149, 175, 176, 177, 203, 

21 I, 231-32 

backing away by, from Bulgarian 
Connection theory. 189-90, 195 



INDEX 



253 



coverage of Pazienza scandals by, 38, 
39 

failure of, to present opposing 
viewpoints, 179, 183, 190, 199 

ignoring by, of Italian political 
context, 6, 196 

initial coverage by, of assassination 
attempt, 10, 194, 216-24 

role of, in disseminating Bulgarian 
Connection 1 89-9 1 . 193-99; see also 
Sterling, Claire, articles by, in New 
York Times; Gage, Nicholas 

see also Howe, Marvine; Kamm, 
Henry; Whitney, Craig R.; 
Tagliabue, John 
New York Times Magazine, 70 
Newsweek, 37, 135, 149, 150, 171, 172, 

176. 183, 226 

initial coverage by, of assassination 
attempt, 1 1 , 42, 155 
Newton, Lowell, 22 
photograph by, 21, 26, 32, 115-16, 
212, 221 
Novak, Michael, 176 

O'Brien, Conor Cruise, 134 
Oddi, Cardinal Silvio, 103 
Oglesby, Carl. 190 

On the Wolfs Track (Andronov), 241, 

242-44 
Orbis. 203-5 

Orlandi, Emmanuela, kidnapping of, 33- 

34, 1 19, 139, 181, 194 
Oymen, Orsan, 27-28, 56, 60, 103. 105- 

6, 207, 211, 243 
Ozbey, Yalcin, 40, 41, 54, 121, 196, 

207 

P-2 See Propaganda Due 
Pan-Turkism, 43-47, 48. 62, 63 
hostility of, to Soviet Union, 45-46, 
64 

see also Nationalist Action Party 
Pandico, Giovanni, 5-6, 41, 98, 103, 

104, 106, 109, 121, 195, 209 
Panorama, 161 
Parisi, Vicente, 90 

Pazienza, Francesco, 5, 90, 108, 119, 
134, 208, 247 

alleged role of, in inducing Agca's 
testimony, 105, 106, 108, 131, 208, 
209 

exposure of, 6, 38, 91-99, 122. 198- 



99 

People magazine, 11-12 

Perry, Jack. 229, 240 

"Petronov," 23 

"Petrov," 27, 28, 1 10 

Piccoli, Flaminio, 96 

Pike Committee, 5, 73 

Pipes, Richard, 69, 177, 203 

Pisano, Dr Vittorfranco S ., 86-87 

Plot to Kill the Pope, The (Henze), 35, 

131-32, 147, 151, 205 
Political Hysteria in America (Levin), 

124 

Pollio Institute, 79, 90 
Pontiff (Thomas and Morgan-Witts), 35 
Pope, the. See John Paul (I, Pope 
Priore, Judge Rosario, 30, 31, 113-14 
Propaganda Due, 81-85, 101. 134, 198, 
208 

connections of, with Italian secret 
services, 83, 89, 94, 98. 102, 108, 
134 

exposure of, 4, 6, 1 88 

penetration of Italian judiciary by, 113 



Reader s Digest, I. 7, 175, 182, 184, 
203, 235, 237 

on alleged Bulgarian drug smuggling, 

226-27. 228, 230, 239 
see also Sterling, Claire 
Reagan, Ronald, 70, 1 78, 243, 244 
Reagan administration: 
alleged foot-dragging of. in accepting 

Bulgarian Connection theory, xiii, 

5, 29, 145-46, 178 
as beneficiary of widespread belief in 

Bulgarian Connection, I, 71, 100, 

101, 123, 145 
efforts by, to link the Soviet Union 

with ' terrorism," I, 101, 108, 125, 

145 

military buildup by, I, 70, 123, 145 
Real Terror Network, The (Herman), 175 
Red Brigades. 29, 30, 66-67, 92-93, 97, 

143-44 
Red Scares, 7, 175, 176 
Repubblica. La, 95 
Republican Peasants' Nation Party, 43 
Ritter, Rep. Donald, 25 
Rizzoli publishing group, 84 
Rodota. Stefano, 88 
Rose of the Winds conspiracy, 80, 81 



254 



THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION 



Safire, William, 175, 176, 177 
Samet, Arslan, 54 

Sanliapichi, Judge Severino, 39, 103, 
114, 195 

Santini, Father Mariano, 103, 109, 208 
Santovito, Giuseppi. 83, 92. 94. 96. 99. 
134, 191 

Scricciolo, Luigi, 30-31 , 32. III. 112 
Season in Paradise, A (Breytenbach), 
130 

secret services, Italian, 
abetting of terrorism by, 86-91, 92-93 
as rightwing force in Italian politics, 4, 
80. 98 

connections of, with Propaganda Due, 
83. 89. 94. 98. 102. 108, 134 

formation of, 75-77 

role of, in fabricating Bulgarian 
Connection, 3-4, 5, 7, 41, 96-97, 
102-3, 108, 118, 198. 206-7, 209. 
211 

see also. Information Service of the 
Armed Forces (SIFAR); SID; 
SISDE; SISMI 

Sejna, Jan, 97, 135-36, 197, 237-38 

Sener. Mehmet, 54, 220, 221 

Senzani, Giovanni, 30, 109. 111. 208-9 

Shcharansky, Anatoly, 175 

Shevchenko, Arkady, 235-37, 238 

Sica, Judge Domenico, 95, 96 

SID, 75. 76. 78. 80. 88. 89 

SIFAR. See Information Service of the 
Armed Forces (SIFAR) 

SISDE, 75, 83, 90 

SISMI. 6, 41, 59, 75, 83. 91, 92, 93, 
94-97, 98, 99, 102. 105, 108, 109, 
118, 134, 137, 188, 191, 198, 206-7. 
209, 211 

Slavov, Atanas, 25 

Smith, Joseph Burkholder, 235 

Solidarity, 14, 20, 25, 144 

Soustelle. Jacques, 69 

Spagnulo, Dr. Carmelo, 1 1 3 

Spike, The (Moss and de Borchgrave), 
168-69 

Siampa, La, 10, 15, 23, 218, 219 
Sterling, Claire, xi, 3, 50-51, 59, 69. 94, 
105, 125, 142, 161, 202, 203, 244 
allegations by, of cover-up, xiii, 5, 9- 

10, 142, 145. 178. 216, 224 
appearances by, on TV, 124, 183, 
184-85. 186 



article by, in Reader's Digest, xi, 1 , 

16, 20, 24, 25, 99, 103, 106, 138. 

142, 149-50, 170, 176, 179, 181- 

82, 184. 190, 213, 221, 226 
articles by. in New York Times, 36, 

125. 181. 190-94. 196 
attacks by, on those with opposing 

viewpoints. 131, 133, 201 
characterization by, of Agca as 

longtime Soviet agent, 13, 25, 49, 

52, 55-56 
credulousness of, toward favored 

sources, 32. 122, 132-36, 207, 237 
distortion of evidence by, 1 25-3 1 , 1 32- 

38, 140-41, 207, 224, 24 1-42 
influence of, on the investigation in 

Italy, 24, 26. 57, 106, 119, 191-92. 

207 

influence of. yiUS. media 

interpretations. 6. 7, 24. 182-85, 
188 

initial response by, to assassination 

attempt, 9-10 
logical difficulties posed by theories 

of, 14, 16, 107, 138-40. 143-44, 

195, 210-11 
on South Africa, 129-31 
testimony of, to congressional 

committees, 13, 25 
use by, of discredited testimony by Jan 

Sejna, 97, 135-36. 197. 237-38 
verdict of slander against, 134-35 
see also Terror Network, The 

(Sterling); Time of the Assassins, 

The (Sterling) 
"strategy of tension," 85-87 
Subcommittee on Terrorism and Security, 
7 

Suffer!, George, 130 
Sverdlev, Stefan, 229, 238-40 

Tagliabue, John, 194-97, 218. 221, 222 

Tamburino, Giovanni. 88 

Taubman, Philip. 149 

Terror Network, The (Sterling), 50, 1 14, 

125, 127-29, 133-34, 135-36, 143-44, 

190, 197, 237 
terrorism: 

in Turkey, 49, 50 . 51-53, 62. 144, 
154, 243 

in Italy, 66-67, 78-79. 86-91 , 92-93, 
143-44 



INDEX 



255 



"terrorism," as propaganda term, 1, 
67-71, 101, I 14, 127-28. 129, 135- 
36, 143-44, 152, 153, 163, 172, 
215, 237, 243 

Thatcher, Margaret, 91 

Thomas, Gordon. 35 

Time magazine, II, 135, 170. 171, 172, 
176. 178, 183. 226, 236 

Time of the Assassins, The (Sterling), 10, 
20. 35, 1 19, 142, 197, 216, 241 
reviews of, 35, 183, 197 

"Tomov, Ivan," 30, 31 

Toth, Robert, 178 

trials: 

of Agca for attempted murder, 18-19 
of three Bulgarians and six Turks for 
conspiracy, ix-xi, xii, 2, 3, 39-41. 
181, 194 97, 
Turkes, Col. Alpaislan, 43. 47, 48, 49, 

64, 137, 242-43 
"TV Eye," 20, 25, 99 
"20/20," 142, 199-200 



Ugurlu, Abuzer. 24. 59-60, 212, 232 



Vassilev, Jelio, 28, 32, 107 

Vatican, role of, in fabricating Bulgarian 

Connection, 3-4. 102-3, 108, 207 
Violante. Luciano, 108 

Walesa. Lech. 20. 175 

alleged plot to kill. 2. 29, 30-32. 33, 
117, 157, 192, 193, 
Wall Street Journal, xiv-xv. 6, 125, 147. 

176. 182, 232-33 
Walters, Vemon, 76, 159 
Washington Post, 10, 26, 35, 135, 153, 

176, 216-23, 231-32 

see also Dobbs, Michael; Gilbert, Sari 
Washington Times, 159, 247 
Wallenberg, Ben, 69, 176 
Weinberger, Caspar, 70, 162 
West German police, 121, 207 
Whitney. Craig R . 180, 204 
Will, George, 69, 176, 177 
Woodruff, Judy, 180, 188 

Yetkin, Suleyman, 102-3 
Yildirim, Rifat, 54 
Yurturslan, Ali. 57